Peace Essay Contest

Calling All Students!  Tell Us a Story …

Each year, the Peace Essay Contest encourages young people to elaborate, clarify, and organize their thoughts about a critical topic related to peace.  The specific writing prompt changes each year.  By participating, these young writers grow and expand their own views on peace and justice.  The contest is open to any elementary, middle or high school student in Virginia. Prizes are awarded in four grade divisions:  K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

The 2017 Peace Essay Contest opens for entries February 1,  2017

Theme: Many People…One Nation 

 Americans come from many different backgrounds.  How can we build understanding and respect for one another among people of different heritages and beliefs?  

What can you do to help build a community from people of so many different backgrounds?  What can we do together in our schools, our neighborhoods, and our nation to help build respect and understanding among all who live in our country? 

Include examples of contributions from people of various cultures and heritages, including your own, who have helped build the United States.

Download Contest details, rules and entry form here:

2017 Essay contest flier (MS Word format)    2017 Essay contest flier (.pdf format)

Deadline for Entries:  April 24, 2017


How the Contest Works

Each year the essay contest is managed by a committee comprised of Peace Center volunteers and board members.  The committee selects the prompt, recruits judges and prepares entries for judging.  Once the essays are submitted, volunteer judges read and score the entries.  Each entry is read by at least three judges and scored based using a standard system.

This program is supported by the Doherty Family Fund of The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia.  If you’d like to volunteer to help with this year’s contest, please contact us at


Congratulations to the 2016 Peace Essay Contest Winners! 

About 350 students from all over Virginia entered this year’s Peace Essay Contest, writing essays about:  “What lessons about cooperation and peacemaking could humans learn from nature?”

Read the work of our 2016 winners here:

Primary Grade Winners

Elementary Grade Winners

Middle School Winners

High School Winners


We valued every essay that was submitted and appreciate all who participated!