Optimist International Oratorical Contest

Scholarship Value: $2,500
Awards Available: 100
Award Deadline: Mar 31, 2024 (Deadline Estimated)

The Optimist Oratorical Contest gives youngsters the chance to speak to the world. More than $150,000 in college scholarships funded by the Optimist International Foundations is awarded annually from this program.

First conducted in 1928, this is the second most popular Optimist International Program. Nearly 2,000 clubs participate in this program each year. The winners at the Club level receive medallions and Zone winners receive a plaque. Districts have the opportunity to provide a first-place scholarship of $2,500, a second-place scholarship of $1,500, and a third-place scholarship of $1,000.

Topic for the 2023-2024 school year is: “How to Change the World with Optimism”

Who: The contest is open to contestants under the age of 19 as of October 1st of the current Optimist International contest year (October 1 – September 30) and who have not yet completed secondary school or its equivalent, including CEGEP students in Québec, Canada. There is no minimum age.

How To Enter: Interested students submit a speech on the pre-assigned topic to their local Optimist Club. To find out the contact in your area, please e-mail the Programs Department at programs@optimist.org.

Students

The deadline to enter is determined by the sponsoring Optimist Club. All Club-level contests are typically held by late March.

Clubs and Districts

Districts and Clubs may opt to hold an online Oratorical Contest. 

Eligibility

  1. The contest is open to contestants under the age of 19 as of October 1st of the current Optimist International contest year (October 1 – September 30) and who have not yet completed secondary school or its equivalent, including CEGEP students in Québec,Canada. There is no minimum age.
  2. A contestant is eligible to enter/compete in only one Optimist Oratorical contest during a contest year. Once a contestant wins first place at the Regional level of the Optimist International Oratorical World Championships, they are ineligible to compete in theOptimist International Oratorical Contest at any level again.
  3. All contestants at each level of the contest must show proof of age before competing. Optimist Clubs may require a copy of birth certificate or passport if offering club scholarship separate from Optimist International. District winners must provide a copy of the birth certificate or passport with District entry documentation. For privacy reasons, the proof of age can be presented at the club contest rather than send it via email.
  4. The application must be submitted prior to the competition. A printed copy of the speech must be furnished either before or after the speech to be eligible to compete. Many clubs ask students to submit the application and speech online but do not ask for proof of age to be sent electronically. Documents can be shown at the contest.
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