Contest descriptions

Writing contest

Through Writers’ Square, Hakka Foundation holds two writing contests (English language and Chinese language) per year, and each contest has three sessions.

During each session, approved contest essays will be posted on this website. Anyone can encourage students by clicking +1 on the post.

Judges score each posted essay by division and award scholarship prizes to Judges' Winners

Note: In the 2019 writing contests, there will be no Audience Favorite winners.

Photography contest

New for 2019, Writers' Square will be holding an English-only photography contest with three sessions.

During each session, approved contest entries will be posted on this website. Anyone can vote for photos they like by clicking +1 on the post. Votes are tallied at the end of each session to award scholarship prizes to Audience Favorite Winners.




Prizes

All entrants will receive a certificate of participation by email. Judges' Winners and Audience Favorite Winners receive scholarship prizes by mail after a session ends. 

Prize Division 1
Grades 1-6
Division 2
Grades 7-12
Division 3
College
Writing contest: 1st Place $500 $700 $1000
Writing contest: 2nd Place $300 $500 $700
Writing contest: 3rd Place $200 $300 $500
Writing contest: Honorable Mention $100 $200 $300
Photography contest: Audience favorite $100 $100 $100

Note: Winners receiving a prize in excess of $600 must report their winnings with IRS Form 1099-MISC.




2019 Contest dates

All entries and votes must be submitted before each contest session ends. The topics and dates below apply to both the writing and photography contests.

Entries received before the contest begins, or after the contest ends, will not be considered for scholarship prizes.

Note: The dates below are subject to change at the discretion of Writers’ Square. Please refer to this page for the most current timelines.

Session 1: Happiness

Topic: What makes you happy and why?

Contest and voting begins: 12:01 AM PDT on January 1

Contest and voting ends: 11:59 PM PDT on March 31

Session 1 winners announced: April 30

Session 2: Fairness

Topic: What does fairness mean to you?

Contest and voting begins: 12:01 AM PDT on April 1

Contest and voting ends: 11:59 PM PDT on June 30

Session 2 winners announced: July 30

Session 3: Greatness

Topic: What makes a person or thing great?

Contest and voting begins: 12:01 AM PDT on July 1

Contest and voting ends: 11:59 PM PDT on September 30

Session 3 winners announced: October 30




Eligibility

The Writers’ Square writing and photography contests are open to all enrolled students from first grade to college.

There are two contests: a writing contest (available in English language and Chinese language) and a photography contest (available in English only). There are three sessions per year for each contest.

Students may only submit one entry per language for each session, but can enter multiple contests in the same session. For example, students may enter the English writing contest, Chinese writing contest, and photography session in Session 1, as long as they only submit one entry to each contest.

Contest entries must be original and previously unpublished work written by the entrant. Essays or photographs submitted during one session may not be submitted in subsequent sessions.

English language writing contest

Division School level Maximum word count (not including entrant's name and essay title)
1 1st through 6th grade 500 words
2 7th through 12th grade 1,000 words
3 Undergraduate college through graduate school 1,500 words

Chinese language writing contest

Division School level Maximum word count (not including entrant's name and essay title)
1 1st through 6th grade 500 words
2 7th through 12th grade 1,000 words
3 Undergraduate college through graduate school 1,500 words

English language photography contest

Division School level Maximum caption word count (not including entrant's name and photograph title)
1 1st through 6th grade 50 words
2 7th through 12th grade 50 words
3 Undergraduate college through graduate school 50 words





Submission guidelines

Hakka Foundation and Writers’ Square reserve the right to reject submissions in any contest solely on the basis of compliance with these submission guidelines.

  1. To enter a contest, fill out the appropriate entry form with your personal information and essay or photograph.

  2. Writers’ Square does not guarantee that the original formatting will be maintained when the essay, photograph, or caption is published on the website. Special formatting, such as indents and bold or italic fonts, are not supported.

  3. All approved essays and photographs will be publicly posted on the Writers' Square Google+ page. Entries can not be modified or deleted after submission, nor taken down after they're posted. Please confirm that all information in your entry form is correct before submitting.

  4. Entry forms and contest entries for each session must be submitted within the contest dates specified on this page.

  5. Photographs submitted on the last day of the session may not be eligible for Audience Favorite Winners prizes and may not be posted before the end of the session. However, essays submitted on the last day of the session are still eligible for Judges' Winners prizes.

  6. All entry forms, essays, photographs, and captions will be read for judging and compliance purposes.

  7. Entries may be disqualified for any of the following reasons:

    • Submitting outside session dates or by methods other than the website submission form.

    • Exceeding word count limits for the entrant’s division based on this website's word calculator tool (irrespective of the word count from your word processor).

    • Including vulgar, offensive, inappropriate, plagiarized, or previously-published content.

    • Including missing, misleading, or false information in the entry form, essay, photograph, or photograph caption.

    • Cheating, such as submitting work that belongs to other people or creating multiple Gmail accounts to vote for one entry.

    • Not adhering to any of these submission guidelines.

  8. If winning entries are subsequently disqualified (for example, if the contestant is discovered to have cheated), that winning contestant must return the scholarship money to Writers' Square. No additional winners will be announced to replace the disqualified contestant.

Additional photography contest submission guidelines

  1. Captions for the photography contest must be in English only. Entries with photograph captions in other languages will not be accepted for the photography contest.
  2. Photographs must meet the following criteria:

    • File type of .jpeg or .png

    • Minimum resolution of 1200 x 1800 pixels at 300 ppi

    • Maximum size of 10 MB

  3. Photographs may be retouched (such as for color adjustments), but may not be edited to add content that was not in the original photograph (such as adding buildings, people, or text via photo editing software like Photoshop).



Judging

A panel of judges will evaluate eligible essays for each session. Their scores will determine the recipients of the Judges Winners scholarship prize.

All entries are blinded and randomized before judging to preserve fairness; the identities of the winning entrants are known after the judging is completed and the winners are selected.

Judges will choose up to 3 winners (1st place, 2nd place,and 3rd place) and up to 3 Honorable Mentions per division for each session. The Judges, Writers’ Square, and Hakka Foundation reserve the right to not issue certain awards if there is no suitable work. All decisions made by judges are final.

Essays are judged on the following criteria:

    Comprehension How well does the essay reflect a thorough comprehension of the essay’s topic and issues?
    Organization Does the essay’s content follow a logical and easily understood progression? Does corroborating evidence support the essay’s main point(s)?
    Creativity Does the essay use diverse resources, approaches, or points of view?
    Writing Does the essay contain concise language, a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures, appropriate tone, and correct grammar and spelling?
    Conclusion Do the conclusions follow logically from the essay’s content? How compelling are these conclusions?



Voting

To vote for your favorite essays or photographs on the Current entries page, click the + button next to the entry. You can also click the + button on winning entries from previous years to continue encouraging previous student winners.

Votes are automatically counted the moment the contest session ends. Photographs submitted on the last day of the session aren't eligible for Audience Favorite Winners prizes and may not be posted before the end of the session. The writing contest this year will not have Audience Favorite Winners prizes; however, essays submitted on the last day of the session are still eligible for Judges' Winners prizes, although they may not be posted before the end of the session.

After a session has ended, you can still to vote for your favorite essays from that session to encourage our student contestants. However, post-session votes will not count towards any prizes. You can similarly vote for contestant essays from previous years at any time, but these votes will not be used for any prize consideration.



Winners announcement

Judges’ Winners and Audience Favorite Winners for each session will be announced on the dates listed on this page, and notified by phone or email. Soon after that session's winners announcement, all winners will receive their scholarship cash prizes in the mail.

Winners’ names and essays will appear on this website and in other publicity pieces, including but not limited to electronic announcements, press releases, and news articles.

If Writers' Square holds Awards Banquets for contest winners, winners and their guests may be recorded and photographed at the Awards Banquet. By attending the banquet, winners and their guests consent to being recorded and photographed. Their attendance also grants Hakka Foundation and Writers' Square the right to edit, use, and reuse resulting photographs and video footage for non-profit purposes including use in print, on the internet, and all other forms of media. In addition, they agree to release Hakka Foundation and Writers' Square from all claims, demands, and liabilities whatsoever in connection with the above.



Contest copyright and privacy policies

These contest rules and policies (as well as other related statements) will be reviewed from time to time and amended or revised as necessary based on the experiences gained under its use and/or changes in the law.

Contest copyright policy

The essay or photography author retains all copyrights to the submitted work. At the discretion of Hakka Foundation and/or Writers’ Square, submitted pieces may be published on the Writers’ Square website or in other media and publicity pieces associated with Hakka Foundation and/or Writers’ Square. By entering this scholarship contest, you consent to the publication of your work, and you grant permission for Hakka Foundation and/or Writers’ Square to print the work in future journals, publicity pieces, exhibitions, flyers, and other formats or contexts determined by, and at the discretion of, Hakka Foundation and/or Writers’ Square.

Work that has been previously published on the Writers' Square website and social media accounts may not be submitted to or accepted by other publications as "unpublished" work. If you subsequently publish your work in another publication, proper attribution must be given to the Writers’ Square website. As a condition of submission, you will be required to agree to these contest terms specifying your rights and obligations.

Writers' Square holds no legal or financial responsibility for contestants' copyright infringement of other people's work (such as in incidents where contestants cheat by submitting work that belongs to someone else). While Writers' Square will take down and disqualify contestants in incidences of cheating or copyright infringement, Writers' Square is not liable to the copyright or original owner for damages. Contestants who submit work under false pretenses hold sole legal responsibility for their actions and are liable to the copyright owner. 

If you need to provide a confirmation of publication, such as for college admissions offices, contact admin@writerssquare.org.

Contest privacy policy

Hakka Foundation and Writers’ Square collects personal information for the purpose of 1) confirming the veracity of contest entry form data at Writers’ Square’s and/or Hakka Foundation’s discretion, and 2) notifying contest winners.

All information submitted is kept confidential and won’t be made public by Hakka Foundation or Writers’ Square. Hakka Foundation and Writers’ Square will not lease, sell, or share the personal information collected. Legal minors under the age of eighteen must have permission from their parents or legal guardians to enter the contest.

If an entrant’s essay is selected for publication in any media associated with Hakka Foundation or Writers’ Square, entrants will only be identified by their first and last names and grade levels. Schools, hometowns, and other personal information will not be used. For example, an entrant’s published essay may be attributed to “John Smith, 10th grade.”