Who’s Eligible

Youth ages 18-26 with experience in the foster care or juvenile justice systems, enrolled in college or trade school, located anywhere in the United States. You may only enter the contest once; if you were a finalist in the 2020 contest you may not participate this year.

Essay Guidelines

Please submit a 1,000 – 2,000 word essay on this topic: Inspiration can be … (should relate back to your experience with foster care, the justice system, or homelessness in some way).

Your submission must include the following:

  • A title for your essay
  • A short written statement about you (100-300 words)
  • Your name, age and the state (and city or county) where you were in foster care and/or involved with juvenile justice
  • Your email address and phone number

Poetry Guidelines

Write an emotional poem expressing your experiences dealing with the child welfare system, homelessness, or the juvenile justice system and the ways it inspired you (or did not). You may submit your poem in a written or video format.


Submit by 11:59 p.m. on March 10, 2021.


Winners will have the opportunity to have their essays published in The Imprint as well as our print magazine, Fostering Families Today.

Essay: The grand prize winner will receive $1000 cash, one runner up will get $500 cash, and 3 finalists will each receive a $100 gift card.

Poetry: The grand prize winner will receive $500 cash, 1 runner-up at $250, and 2 finalists at $100 each.

Winners will be announced by the end of March 2021.


By submitting your essay, you grant Fostering Media Connections permission to publish your work as it chooses, indefinitely. All submissions will be blinded, meaning judges will not have any identifying information about the photographer. Winners will be asked to submit a short bio and headshot and to work with our editors to prepare their photos for publication.

How to Submit

Access the essay submission form here.

Access the poetry submission form here.


Email us at [email protected] or call us at (213) 379-5359 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday.

Good luck!