Student Essay Contest

Win a scholarship ($3,481) to Foresight Prep @ Oberlin College!


What will you offer your peers (and adults) for responding to our current moment?

Maybe it’s a workshop curriculum, or maybe it’s a plate of cookies. A poster design, or a poem. A word of advice jotted on a napkin, or a step-by-step action plan. 

In your essay, answer the following:

  1. To what "emergency" will you respond? Clearly identify a social and/or environmental challenge posed by our current historical and political moment. This could be a longstanding issue/problem (e.g. poverty, scapegoating of immigrants, climate change), or something emerging (e.g. recent changes in policies or leadership).
  2. What will you contribute to address this problem? How will your resource help yourself and others to confront it?

To further support your argument, choose one or both of the following to answer, building upon your response to the first two questions. This part of the prompt asks you to think about how the resource that you bring might achieve its highest purpose when used in collaboration with others:

3a. What do you need your peers to bring?
3b. What do you need older generations to bring?

Contest Details

Deadline: 11:59 PM CST, March 31, 2017.
***Deadline extended: Submit your essay by 5:00 PM CST, April 3rd, 2017. 
Eligibility: Open to national/international high school students in graduating class years 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

There is no entry fee or monetary cost to participate. One essay contest entry per person—if more than one entry is submitted, only the first entry will be considered. Once an essay is submitted, it may not be edited in any way. Plagiarism will result in disqualification.


  • Provide a clear, specific answer to Question 1.
  • Provide a clear answer to either Question 3a or 3b, or both. 
  • Use correct grammar, and proofread. 
  • Your essay should stay between 1-2 single spaced,
    typed pages (500-1000 words). Include your name, a title, and page numbers. 
  • Foresight can only accommodate essays written in English. 


Entries will be evaluated based upon the following:

  • Quality of writing 
  • Thoughtfulness: What consideration will you give to the complexities of the situations that face us, and your strategies for addressing them. 
  • Coherence: Strive to tell an integrated story across the full length of your essay.
  • Creativity and originality. We'd suggest considering topics that are relevant to your own experience and unique contribution.

Prizes & Judges

Essays will be judged by our esteemed judges (see below), based upon the Criteria & Guidelines (see above). In addition to selecting one Contest Winner, there will be one Runner-up and a list of five finalists who will be publicized. The Contest Winner will be awarded a full tuition and room and board scholarship to one Foresight Prep @ Oberlin College summer 2017 seminar of their choosing (a $3,481 value). The Runner-up will be awarded a 25% tuition discount. The Contest Winner and Runner-up will also receive a formal letter of recognition, have access to a one-on-one, 30-minute informational interview via Skype or phone with one of the judges, and will have their essays and biography featured on the Emergency Picnic and Foresight Prep @ Oberlin College websites.

Foresight Prep @ Oberlin College Application

Contest entries will be considered students’ Program Applications for the Foresight Prep @ Oberlin College summer program. They will not be required to send additional admissions materials. A question on the essay submission form will ask students to indicate whether they wish to be considered for program admission even if theirs is not chosen as the winning essay.

The Contest Winner's prize will cover the program’s full tuition and room and board costs of $3,481. 


Bob Langert, Former Vice President, Global CSR & Sustainability at McDonald’s Corporation.

Bob Langert has engaged in social responsibility issues since the late 1980s. Bob joined McDonald’s system in 1983 with management positions in logistics, packaging and purchasing. In the 1990s, he had responsibilities for the environment, energy management, animal welfare, and Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities’ grants. He was appointed McDonald’s first VP to lead sustainability in 2006. Bob led the development of McDonald’s 2020 Sustainability Vision and Framework, including McDonald’s commitment to the environment, supply chain sustainability, and balanced menu choices. He retired from McDonald’s in 2015.

Susanne Schnell, Social Impact Strategy Consultant &
Visiting Scholar, Healthy Communities
 for the Center for Urban Research & Learning (CURL) at Loyola University Chicago

Susanne is an entrepreneurial leader whose work supports sustainable urban development, community health, and social innovation. Her work at CURL is focused on connected, equitable aging. From 2009-2013, she served as Executive Director of Archeworks, which supports underserved communities through multidisciplinary design partnerships. Previously, she held positions with the Civic Committee—a regional business intermediary of leading corporations—and its nonprofit consulting affiliate, the Civic Consulting Alliance, where she developed public-private partnership initiatives in inner-city economic development, urban planning, workforce development, and education. She also served for four years as adjunct faculty at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s City Design Center, conducting best practice research for a national study on neighborhood resilience and market recovery strategies, and co-developing a multidisciplinary Green Neighborhood Design Program. As a management consultant, Susanne played lead start-up roles in organizational planning and program development during the first two years of the National Public Housing Museum, and directed ‘Learning from North Lawndale’—a multi-stakeholder neighborhood architectural and social history initiative at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.