Select Page

Students between the ages of 10-18 years old are invited to participate in a writing contest about what the term “racism” means and how our community can work together to combat racism. The contest is being sponsored by the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office as part of its “Looking Forward … to Change” initiative.

“Recent events in our nation have highlighted what is being classified as systemic racism in our criminal justice system,” said District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly. “In order to understand this and to work toward meaningful change, we as a community need to listen to each other. I am asking students to identify their understanding of this problem, and to provide ideas for what we can do NOW to move the ball forward and to start building trust amongst residents, both with each other and with law enforcement.”

Essay Question: Imagine that you have been selected by your school principal to speak to a group of community leaders and lawmakers. Your job is to help them understand the impact of racism in our communities. In the first paragraph tell the audience what you think the term “racism” means. Then, explain how you think your life has been impacted by racism. If you do not feel that you have been personally affected by racism, you can explain what you have seen in your experiences in school, at church, at sporting events or other group activities. You can even discuss your feelings about things you have read about or have seen on social media and television. Then explain, in at least two paragraphs, your ideas about how our community can work together against racism and what your community leaders and lawmakers can do to support your ideas.

Eligibility: The contest is open to Rensselaer County students between the ages of 10-18 years old. Contestants must live and attend school in Rensselaer County and cannot be high school graduates.

Prizes: Prizes will be awarded in each of the following age categories: 10-12, 13-15 and 16-18.

  • First Prize – Apple iPad
  • Second Prize – $100 Gift Card
  • Third Prize – $50 Gift Card

Deadline: All entries must be submitted or postmarked by August 1, 2020. Contest winners and dates for an awards presentation will be announced during the third week of August.

Submission: Entries may be submitted via email to and should contain the words “Essay Contest” in the subject line or you may mail your entry to:

Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office
Attn: Susan Kalafut
Rensselaer County Courthouse
80 Second Street
Troy, NY 12180

Essay Contest Flyer