$100,000 Stop the Hate® Essay Contest Encouraging More Students to Speak Out

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Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage's Social Responsibility Initiative Expands, Now Accepting Entries from 5 Additional Northeast Ohio Counties

“My goal is to spread respect, one human interaction at a time,” wrote last year’s Stop the Hate®: Youth Speak Out Grand Prize Winner Lea Kayali. These words helped the Palestinian-American Shaker Heights High School graduate win a $40,000 scholarship that she’s applying toward her tuition at Pomona College. Kayali’s sentiment gets to the core of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Youth Speak Out (maltzmuseum.org/stop-the-hate), an annual contest that celebrates Northeast Ohio 6-12th graders who are committed to taking action to become agents of positive change. “Youth Speak Out asks students to consider the impact they can have on the world,” explains Maltz Museum education director Jeffery Allen. “This contest encourages the next generation of leaders to take action that will help create a more accepting and inclusive society.”

Since it launched eight years ago, Stop the Hate® has empowered nearly 17,000 students to stand up for what they believe, awarding $700,000 in anti-bias awards and higher education scholarships. Open to private, public, online and home-schooled 6-12th graders, this year the contest is expanding its reach. “In addition to Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit, we’re now accepting entries from Ashtabula, Mahoning, Stark, Trumbull and Wayne counties,” says Allen. Eligible students are invited to submit 500-word essay in response to one of two questions:

  • Grades 6-10 - Describe a time when you or someone you know chose silence or inaction over speaking up in a difficult or uncomfortable situation. What was the harm in not doing or saying anything? What did you learn from that experience and how will that knowledge influence your actions in the future?
  • Grades 11 & 12 - Describe an obstacle you or someone you know has faced in being accepted. What qualities does it take to break down barriers? What have you done and what actions will you take in the future to help create a more inclusive community?

“This scholarship competition is so important to furthering our mission,” explains Maltz Museum executive director Ellen Rudolph. “These students are out there in our community every day modeling the values this Museum stands for: the importance of individual actions and a healthy respect and appreciation for the diversity of the human experience.” This is critical, asserts Rudolph, because as last year’s Youth Speak Out First Runner-Up Apoorva Vallampati of Aurora High School wrote in her essay, “We simply cannot afford the merciless ransom that indifference demands.”

The deadlines for Youth Speak Out entries are Friday, December 4, 2015 for students in grades 6-10 and Friday, January 22, 2016 for 11-12th graders. Twenty-five (25) finalists will be recognized and winners will be determined at an Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 21, 2016.

Teachers are invited to implement Stop the Hate® as a classroom project. For inspiration, deadlines, past winning essays, related Museum tours and complete rules, visit maltzmuseum.org/stop-the-hate and follow @stopthehateUS on Twitter.

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FOR FACEBOOK, TWITTER OR LINKEDIN: NE #Ohio 6-12 graders can stand up to discrimination for chance at $100k in prizes. @maltzmuseum #stopthehate contest: http://bit.ly/STHcontest

MALTZ MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE The Maltz Museum celebrates culture and identity to encourage connection and promote a greater appreciation of Jewish heritage and the diversity of the human experience. Personal stories of struggle, courage and creativity are brought to life through interactive exhibitions and thought-provoking programs. For more information, visit maltzmuseum.org and follow us on Twitter @maltzmuseum and @stopthehateUS

Other images available upon request.

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Susan Friedman
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