The Mentoris Project Essay Contest was created to introduce high school students to inspirational women and men whose influence on our culture has endured. Some are readily known, others more obscure, but they all have one thing in common: they came into the world under humble or ordinary circumstances, yet through determination and a calling to help others, became extraordinary.

This year’s contest will be judged by Mentoris Project founder, Robert Barbera, and made possible with funding from the Barbera Foundation. Winners will be announced November 15, 2023.


The contest is open to students in the 11th and 12th grade in the U.S. (or international equivalent of the 11th and 12th grade).


1ST PLACE: $1,000

2ND PLACE: $750

3RD PLACE: $500

The Mentoris Project will donate a set of our books to the school libraries of the top three prize-winners.


The Mentoris Project publishes biographies and biographical novels about trailblazers in art, government, music, STEM, and more. Read the Mentoris book of your choice and submit a 1,000-word double-spaced essay that addresses the following questions:

  • Why do you think the main character matters to us today?
  • How did the main character respond to challenges, setbacks and defeats?
  • What lessons did you learn from the main character’s actions and attitudes and how can you apply them to your own life?

Entrants can submit essays on more than one book.

Mentoris books are available at libraries, from all online retailers, and by order from your local bookstore. 

Please address any questions to [email protected].

Submissions will be accepted until October 15, 2023. Essays received after the deadline will not be considered.

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