About the Stop the hate Contest

What is the Stop the hate contest?

Now in its 15th year, the Stop the Hate® contest is comprised of of two components: Youth Speak Out Essay Writing Contest and Youth Sing Out Songwriting Contest. Both celebrate Northeast Ohio students in sixth to twelfth grade who are committed to creating a more accepting, inclusive society by standing up and speaking out against bias and bigotry as they compete for the chance to win prestigious awards.

Each year about 3,000 students enter, and with the help of 400 volunteer readers, 20 finalists are named. Since the contest started over 30,000 students in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio have participated, and $1.3 million has been awarded to students and schools.

Rooted in the Jewish value of respect for all humanity, the Maltz Museum is proud that it continues to give young people of all faiths and backgrounds a platform to speak out in support of inclusion and diversity.

What is the Essay contest?

Youth Speak Out Essay Writing Contest invites sixth to twelfth grade students to pen a personal essay in 500 words or less about bias they have witnessed or experienced and share what they have done or will do in response. Any sixth to twelfth grade student may participate as long as they live within Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne counties. Students compete to win scholarships for themselves and anti-bias education grants for their school.

How do I Enter the Essay contest?

Teachers: Book a Free Online Workshop to Start the Process
Help your students get the most out of the Stop the Hate program. We now offer free online essay writing workshops with Lake Erie Ink. Learn more and book your workshop.

Students: Respond to the Essay Prompt

This year we honor the courage and spirit of activists of the Civil Rights Movement whose legacy is explored in the Maltz Museum’s special exhibition, This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. Inspired by lyrics to the African American folk anthem, “This Little Light of Mine,” sung as an expression of unity in the fight for equality and justice for all, we invite you to share how you shine your light as an agent of positive change in your community.

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

For the essay contest: In 500 words or less:

  1. Write about a personal experience of injustice, bias, discrimination, or exclusion: something you witnessed or experienced, or a moment when you learned about an unjust situation or event that affected you or others.
  2. How did this moment impact you and others?
  3. Reflect on the idea of “light” as a metaphor. Where can we find “light” in this situation? How have you or will you shine your light as an agent of positive change in your community? How does shining a light (standing up or telling your story) help you and others?

How to Enter
Submit your entry using the official entry form

Important Dates & Deadlines
Contest Opens: Thur, September 8th, 2022

Stop the Hate Info Session to be held: Thur, September 8th, 2022
Deadline Grade 6-10: Thur, February 16, 2023
Deadline Grade 11-12: Thur, February 23, 2023

Official Rules and Judging Criteria
Grade 6-12 Rubric

what are the prizes for the essay writing contest?

All participating schools receive money:
Every Northeast Ohio school within the 12 country radius that participates in a workshop package or uses Stop the Hate learning progression in their classroom is eligible to receive anti-bias education grant money from a pool of $30,000 that will be split evenly.

Top scoring students receive individual awards and their schools receive anti-bias education grants:

Top Ten Awards for Grades 11 & 12
Grand Prize Winner: $20,000 scholarship
Student’s school: $5,000

First Runner Up: $10,000 scholarship
Student’s school: $2,000

Second Runner Up: $5,000 scholarship
Student’s school: $2,000

(7) Honorable Mentions: $1,000 cash prize
Students’ schools: $500 each

Top Awards for Grades 6 – 10
1st place winners (in each grade): $400 cash prize
2nd place winners (in each grade): $100 cash prize


All winning students receive a free family membership to the Maltz Museum for one year.

Everyone who participates receives recognition:
Participating students & schools receive congratulatory upstander certificates that can be printed.

Teacher of the Year to be named:
New this year, the Museum will present a $1,000 cash prize to the Stop the Hate Youth Speak Out Teacher of the Year for personal commitment to anti-bias education.



What is the Songwriting contest and how do i enter?

Youth Sing Out Songwriting Contest is a classroom based group competition for sixth to twelfth grade students. In order to enter, classrooms must participate in a free online workshop and work with a teaching artist from Roots of American Music to pen an original song. This song becomes the class submission to the contest and is judged by a panel of music experts selected in partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Winning classrooms receive anti-bias education grants for their school.

Important Dates & Deadlines
Workshops can be scheduled as early as: Thur, September 8th, 2022
Stop the Hate Info Session to be held: Thur, September 8th, 2022
Songs must be submitted by: Thur, February 2, 2023

Official Rules and Judging Criteria
Grade 6-12 Rubric

what are the prizes for the songwriting contest?

All participating schools receive money:
Every Northeast Ohio school within the 12 country radius that participates in a workshop package or uses Stop the Hate learning progression in their classroom is eligible to receive anti-bias education grant money from a pool of $30,000 that will be split evenly.

Winners in middle and high school categories receive anti-bias education grants:
1st place in both categories receives $3,500.
2nd place in both categories receives $2,000

Everyone who participates receives recognition:
Participating students & schools receive congratulatory upstander certificates that can be printed.

Teacher of the Year to be named:
New this year, the Museum will present a $1,000 cash prize to the Stop the Hate Youth Sing Out Teacher of the Year for personal commitment to anti-bias education.



The Maltz Museum is supported by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and Ohio Arts Council

© 2022 Maltz Museum