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2018 Essay Contest Details

Describe Your Spiritual Experiences of Divine Love Directly and/or Through Others & How These Experiences May Have Increased Your Kindness and Compassion Toward All People

Due to the overwhelming success of The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love's first Youth Essay Contest, the Institute is pleased to announce a second essay competition for young people ages 13 to 15 and ages 16 to 19. The Institute is an inter-spiritual non-profit public charity founded in 2001 in Cleveland, Ohio, and currently based in New York, with a worldwide reach.


I. Prizes

There will be a grand prize of $1,000 and a second place prize of $300 in each of our two age groups (13-15, 16-19).

Honorable Mention: In addition, 5 essays in each age group will be designated “Honorable Mention” which carries no prize but is a mark of distinction to be acknowledged with a certificate of excellence.

II. Due Date

February 1, 2018, midnight local time

III. Essay Length and Structure

Essays should be in the range of 700 words for 13–15 year olds, and 1000 to 1200 words for 16–19 year olds, double-spaced, and written in English.

Section One:
Describe in depth your experiences of Divine love directly and/or through others.

Section Two:
Describe how these experiences may have helped you to realize the dignity and value of all people without exception.

Section Three:
Describe how these experiences may have increased your kindness and compassion toward all people.

IV. Selection Process

An international panel of Institute advisors will select the winning essays, which will be published on the Institute's special auxiliary website and included in a forthcoming book.

We encourage submissions from young people of any religious tradition (or from none) who can report a transformational spiritual experience of Divine love.

Note: Divine love is not mere human love. It is a Higher Love, associated with a Supreme Being, Allah, “God,” Ultimate Reality, the Great Spirit, the Holy Spirit, Om, or whatever name you prefer. There are people who experience Divine love directly, and others who experience is as working through others in surprising ways as if in answer to a prayer. We are interested in the details of your personal experience of Divine love, in how these experiences may have helped you to realize the dignity and value of all people without exception, and in how these experiences may have increased your kindness and compassion toward all people.

Unfortunately, in some places around the world religious hatred is found in children as young as four years of age, and religious persecution and violence is on the rise. We want to encourage youth to help us find a path to a future where Divine love for all humanity replaces hatred, brutality, and violence.

PDF: Announcement and Directions

2018 Schedule

  • February 1  Essays due by midnight, local time.
  • April 15  Winners announced via email.
  • April 30  Winning essays and honorable mentions posted on the institute auxiliary website

Directions for Essay Submission

Essays should be submitted by February 1, 2018 midnight, local time, as an email attachment in a standard Microsoft Word document format only (we do not accept Google Docs). Send your essay attached to an email to You may also send any questions to this address.

In the Subject Line of your email, state “2018 Youth Essay Contest [last name] [first name] [email address]”

Example: “2018 Youth Essay Contest Smith Jane”

Your attached Word document essay should be named and saved in the same way, but add your age as of February 1, 2018.

Example: “2018 Youth Essay Contest Davis Jonathan Age 16”

At the top left of your essay indicate the following

Date of Birth/Age as of 2/1/2018
(or NA if not applicable)
Email Address

At the end of your essay, please include the following RELEASE

I, _______________, the author of this work, grant permission to The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love to use my original entry as described in the competition announcement. I understand that the winning articles become the property of the Institute. I represent and warrant that I am the sole creator of the work and have full power and authority to grant permission and to make this agreement. I warrant that the work does not infringe on any copyright or violate any property rights. I release any and all intellectual property rights to this entry. I understand that I will not receive compensation for my work, but for the winning entries, as described in the competition announcement.

Note: If you are younger than 15 years of age, your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must indicate their permission for your participation in this contest by signing here _______________ and printing their name here _______________ and providing the date _______________.

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This is a project of The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love.