Special Events, Exhibits and Programs

Special Events, Exhibits and Programs

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President Gerald R. Ford Essay Challenge

Each year, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Museum, and Foundation collaborate on this unique competition for high school students. Students are asked to write a 500-750 word original essay taking a trait President Ford was known for and relating it to the world today. The trait changes annually.

The theme for the 2016 – 2017 School year is The Meaning of Liberty Today. Entries must be postmarked no later than Monday, March 6, 2017.

The complete list of rules follows below.

Questions: Email Barbara McGregor at: barbara.mcgregor@nara.gov

Send a hard copy of your entry to:
Barbara McGregor
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
303 Pearl Street, NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353


The President Gerald R. Ford Essay Challenge is open to all 9th through 12th grade students in Michigan. To enter, write a 500 – 750 word essay on this year's theme, The Meaning of Liberty Today. Limit one entry per student, per contest.

  • All essays must be submitted on white, 8 1/2" x 11" paper with one-inch margins on each side. Essays must be single-sided and double-spaced, using black or dark blue ink. Judges will determine legibility of fonts and hand written entries.
  • A title page is required for each entry. It must include student name, address, phone, e-mail, grade, school, teacher, school address and school phone.
  • The sponsors reserve the right to interpret the contest rules and to make decisions concerning the awards in situations not covered by these rules.
  • Participation in the contest constitutes entrant's full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of all official rules and guidelines, including eligibility requirements.


  • Drop off, or mail, completed entry to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Attn: Barbara McGregor, 303 Pearl St., NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353. All entries must be hand delivered or postmarked no later than February 21, 2017. No late entries will be accepted.
  • Essays will be reviewed by judges comprised of civic, education, and/or business leaders.
  • Finalists will be notified no later than April 3, 2017.
  • Participating sponsors are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, illegible, or incomplete essays, or essays that do not follow all rules and guidelines.
  • Essays will not be returned.


  • Winners will be selected based on adherence to the theme, quality of narrative, originality of the essay, as well as on proper use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Plagiarism will result in disqualification.
  • Judges will select the top three entries. Judges also reserve the right to select up to six honorable mention recipients. Decisions of the judges are final.


  • Employees of the sponsors, and members of their households, are not eligible.
  • By participating, each contestant agrees to comply with these rules and further agrees to accept the decision of the judges as final and binding.
  • Parents or guardians of the finalists will be required to sign and submit a publicity consent form as a condition of a student's participation in this contest.


  • The first place winner will receive $1,000.00, second place $750.00, and third place $500.00.
  • Honorable mention recipients will each receive $250.00.

The President Gerald R. Ford Essay Challenge is co-sponsored by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum and Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.