Lifting Up Westchester Announces Student Essay Contest Explores Lessons Learned from Pandemic

Lifting Up Westchester, a non-profit agency committed to helping individuals achieve self-sufficiency, announces their fourth annual high school student essay contest. Open to all Westchester students in the 7th to 12th grades, students are invited to explore the changes and challenges they have experienced during the pandemic.

The essay contest was established in 2017 in memory of Beth Massey Rubens, a lifelong teacher, tutor and mentor who had a love for language arts.

This year’s essay invites students to reflect how the changes and challenges they experienced may be the same or different from individuals who are homeless and low-income. What did they learn about the importance of connection? Where have they seen resilience or adaptability during this crisis? What values are more important or less important to them today than a year ago?

Students are asked to focus on what the pandemic has exposed about economic and social inequities in the U.S. as well as what can be done to change those inequities. And finally, essays must relate back to Lifting Up Westchester’s response to the pandemic and the agency’s core mission.

“This year’s essay contest topic could not be more fitting,” said Anahaita Kotval, CEO of Lifting Up Westchester. “We have seen how quickly and drastically millions of lives have changed as a result of the pandemic; this topic offers students an opportunity to reflect meaningfully  on their experiences and chart a path forward that is centered around community and inclusivity.”

First, second and third place cash prizes will be awarded in three grade groups;  7th and 8th graders, 9th and 10th graders and 11th and 12th graders.  First prize in each category is $500, second prize $250 and third prize $100.

Students can enter the contest from November 9, 2020 through January 29th, 2021. Essays must be submitted in PDF format via e-mail to: Students, teachers, and parents can learn more about how the contest works and the judging criteria by visiting

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