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HGP’s Annual Scholarship Contest

Humanists of Greater Portland (HGP) is pleased to sponsor an annual essay contest to encourage Portland-area college-bound high school seniors in their education and in learning more about humanism. Thanks to the foresight and planning of Del Allen, a long-time HGP member, a scholarship fund was begun in 2011, and awards have been given out annually since 2012. HGP members continue to make donations to suppport this important community outreach. 

The essay contest promotes the logical thinking and communication skills valued by humanists. We’re heartened to see the number of applicants increase over the years. We believe this demonstrates that more young people all the time are accepting humanism as their worldview.

A committee of HGP volunteers administers the scholarship contest. New topics are announced each year for an essay of 750-1,000 words on one topic chosen out of three.  In 2020, these covered climate change, income inequality, and the entanglement of law and religion.  For 2021, they can write about diminishing racism, balancing freedom and the common good in a pandemic, or handling misinformatio in social media.

Every January, the committee sends application forms and guidelines to Portland Metropolitan Area public schools. Interested students can pick up these materials at their schools or download them from HGP’s website.

This year's submission deadline is April 9. In addition to the essay, students must provide parental permission and school transcripts showing a GPA of at least 3.0. Winners need to submit proof of college enrollment prior to receiving their scholarship funds.

The number of winners and award amounts vary from year to year, depending on funds available and the quality of the essays. For example, 2020’s first-place winner Owen Engbretson (Liberty High, Hillsboro) received $3,000; Josephine Lauck-Dorsey (Cleveland High, Portland) and Aoibhinn O'Shea (International School, Beaverton) tied for second place, each receiving $2,000; and $1,000 went to Risa Saulino (Cleveland) for third place. Click on their names to read their essays.

Congratulations to all of these fine students and all the best to them in their future endeavors.

The 2021 first place award will be $5,000.  The 2021 application form can be downloaded here.

to support this cause