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 2019 Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech 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 Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, Julia Wang at Good luck!

 The Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest is sponsored by 

McDonald Hopkins 


Throughout 2018, there have been many conflicts surrounding free speech. From college campuses to the White House and with an increasingly polarized environment, both on and offline, people disagree about how free speech should be utilized and protected in their daily lives. These disagreements about free speech seem to have widened the rift between the left and right and to have made compromise on important issues difficult to reach. In such trying times, we often question whose voice has a right to be heard. What are the biggest threats to freedom of speech? What should be done to protect this core value of American Democracy?

DEADLINE: March 11, 2019

ELIGIBILITY: 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 winners are invited to attend a City Club forum with a guest and the first place winners for each category are invited to read their winning essay prior to the start of the 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