About the City Club

The City Club of Cleveland is one of the nation's great free speech forums. A product of the Progressive Era, we were founded in 1912 and are one of the nation's oldest continuous independent free speech forums, renowned for our tradition of debate and discussion. For more than a hundred years, all of our speakers—from sitting presidents to community activists—have answered unfiltered, unrehearsed questions directly from the audience. 

Thank you for participating in the 2023 Hope and Stanley Adelstein Essay Contest!

Please read all details below regarding the essay prompt and eligibility. For details on judging, please click below for the detailed rubric.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Noelle Celeste at nceleste@cityclub.org. Good luck!


There is no doubt that mass shootings, either in schools or at public events, have taken a toll on American society. Parents are rightfully concerned about whether the schools their children attend will keep them safe. Some feel a sense of paranoia in public spaces, not knowing whether they could become the next victims of domestic terrorism.

Reflecting on recent events, news coverage, and analysis, provide an answer to one or more of the following questions. To what extent is the violence in our nation today a matter of the need to police guns or people? What can be done to better ensure the safety of America’s citizens? What consequences could result from stricter or more relaxed gun control? In what aspects has gun control, or lack thereof, affected your daily life? If you were a legislator, what procedures or precautions would you take to address this dividing issue? How should Americans and their elected representatives think about these very thorny issues?

DEADLINE : Thursday, March 30, 2023


All high school students (9-12th grade) in public, private, parochial, charter, and home schools in Northeast Ohio


  • Essays will be judged on their clarity, content, originality, and significance, and by responding to the correct question and required components
  • Please use 3 to 5 articles from reliable, valid sources in your essay.
  • During the judging process, each entry is assigned a number. Essays are blind-scored by number only; no student or school names are identified. Do not include student name or school name within the body of your essay. Failure to comply may result in disqualification.
  • All first-place winners of each category are invited to read their winning essays at the start of a City Club forum.
  •  Click here for a detailed rubric



11/12 Grade

  • First Place: $1,000
  • Second Place: $750
  • Third Place: $500
  • Honorable Mention: $250

9/10 Grade

  • First Place: $500
  • Second Place: $250
  • Third Place: $150
  • Honorable Mention: $100

You can view last year's winning essays here:  

The City Club of Cleveland