Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation to advocate for change through his compelling and thought provoking oratory. Today, more than ever, we need to continue to follow in his footsteps, using our voices, and the various channels we have to share them, to unite and move our communities forward.
The Thomas and Woods Foundation will be honoring Dr. King by hosting the Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Scholarship Contest. The contest is for Philadelphia high school students, grades 9-12. Each student will be asked to submit an application and a copy of their essay on this years topic. Our board votes on the top 10 finalists. Each finalist will receive one-on-one speech writing/public speaking coaching in preparation for the contest. The submission timeline is below.
The prompt for the Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Scholarship Contest is:
Martin Luther King Jr. was not just a dreamer, a leader or civil rights activist: he was a visionary who believed that tomorrow could always be brighter, and better than yesterday. He said, "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Over the past year, we have seen and heard the commentary surrounding various issues on the national and local level. Issues like gun control, education, criminal justice reform, immigration and free speech have encouraged many to share their views, while encouraging others to remain silent. In 1,000 words, share with us the importance of using your voice as a vessel for change and how you believe, if alive today, Dr. King would navigate our current political and social climate.
I have a dream...
For questions regarding the contest, please email Gabby Richards at
November 20, 2017: Submissions Open
January 3rd: Submissions Close
January 4th: Top 10 Finalists Announced
January 5-12, 2018: One-On-One Speech Coaching for Finalists
January 15, 2017: The Second Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Scholarship Competition, Martin Luther King High School, Philadelphia.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead...
We hosted the first Thomas and Woods Foundation Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Scholarship Contest in 2017 to give Philadelphia students the opportunity to share their views on our current political and social climate. Each student submitted an essay and then worked with our board member, Gabby Richards, who was both a high school and collegiate competitive public speaker, on how to turn their essays into speeches.
The contest was hosted at Marin Luther King High School on MLK Day, where over 50 people came to listen to these student's speeches. Each student was judged by local members from the community, including elected officials at the local and state level. Through the generous donations of our supporters and local organizations, we were able to award over $2,000 in scholarship money to the finalists.