The National Rural Education Association (NREA) Foundation announces its annual essay contest for students in rural schools across America. Any student who attends a rural school may participate.


Student contestants may participate in three divisions: elementary, middle/junior high, and high school:

  • Grades 3-5 may participate in a written essay contest using the prompt and rubric. Essays must be 250 words in length.
  • Grades 6-8 may participate in a written essay contest using the prompt and rubric. Essays must be 500 words in length.
  • Grades 9-12 may participate in a video essay contest using the prompt below and the rubric. Videos must be 3 to 4 minutes in length.

The Prompt

Rural schools are often the center of the community. Think about your school and how it relates to your community. Why is your school important to you and the community? What are events and activities that connect your school to the community and why are they important to the livelihood of your community?


The winner in the elementary division receives $250. The runner-up will receive $100. The winners in the middle/junior high and high school divisions receive $400. The runner-ups receive a $200 prize.

View Contest Guidelines and Rubrics

Other Requirements

Schools are asked to pre-screen entries according to the attached rubrics and select up to five (5) quality entries for each grade cluster. No more than five (5) entries will be accepted from any one school.

All essays must be postmarked or emailed by April 15.