Community of the Future Creatives Showcase

Mississippi Middle and High School
Writing & Art Contest

Hosted by The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

Make sense of 2020. Envision beyond.

Our nation, our state, and our communities have all experienced some big changes and challenges over the last year. The coronavirus pandemic, the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, as well as a new state flag and new leadership brought tears, joy, and sometimes confusion. Many of us will never forget that the longest spring break ever turned into months of virtual school.

To reflect on what we can learn from the events of 2020 and early 2021 and envision what comes next, The Winter Institute would like for you, as young people and talented creators, to submit a piece of writing or art for our virtual Community of the Future Creatives Showcase.

We will share submissions in a variety of ways, including on our website and social media, and in a virtual showcase event where several awards will be announced. First and second place winners in each category will be invited to read or perform their work, or have it performed by others.

Download the contest flyer

We encourage you to share this opportunity with Mississippi educators and young artists or writers.

What to Create

Essay or Poem

  • Prompt: Hardship and resilience, joy and pain are important to the stories of individuals, families, and communities. Where have you seen examples of these in your community and what lessons have you learned through the hard times that will make you a better person?

Essay or poem submissions may be up to 500 words.

Visual or Performance Art

  • Prompts:
    • A Better, Brighter Future in Mississippi and/or our Nation
    • What Makes You Proud of the Mississippi Community That You Call Home
    • A Mississippi Where Racism NO LONGER Exists

Visual art must be submitted as a digital image file (PDF, JPG, JPEG, or GIF). Themed series of paintings, drawings, photoessays, etc. that consist of up to 5 images are welcome to be adjudicated as a single work.

Recorded performances (of dance, spoken word, theater, etc.) should be 2-3 minutes in length and submitted by video link (published online at YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, etc.).

You may submit multiple entries, though you may place in only one category. Please complete a separate online application for each entry, unless you are submitting a themed visual series.

Key Dates

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 12, 2021

Award Notifications: Friday, April 2, 2021

Virtual Showcase: Saturday, April 10, 2021


 High School Prizes Middle School Prizes 
Essay or Poem
1st Place$200$1505 Regional Honorable Mentions
2nd Place$100$100
Visual Art or Performance Art
1st Place$200$1505 Regional Honorable Mentions
2nd Place$100$100

Showcase Guidelines

  1. The showcase is open to current middle and high school students.
  2. A committee of community members will award prizes based on these criteria for submissions:
    • Addresses the prompt
    • Adheres to length limits
    • Expresses thoughts and emotions, including any pain and suffering, without hate toward others
    • Respects the dignity of every human being
    • No content beyond PG-13, please!
  3. Winners will be contacted in advance of the Virtual Showcase via the contact information in their applications.
  4. By submitting your work, you give your permission for The Winter Institute to use it  — with attribution to you — in our organizational materials, promotional materials, and online platforms.

Once you submit your work, we’ll keep you up to date and notify winners via the contact information provided. Email any questions to Von Gordon at


Community of the Future Creatives Showcase Submission Form

  • Write "Homeschool" if applicable
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • Submit your writing or art

    If you are submitting more than one entry, please complete one application for each, unless you are submitting a themed visual series.
  • Please share the name of your piece of writing or art.
  • Submissions may not exceed 500 words.
  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, gif, png, pdf.
      File types allowed: jpg, jpeg, gif, png, pdf. Limit 5MB per file. Note that multiple images will be adjudicated as a single entry of a themed series. NOTE: Please do not upload a video file. Publish it to the web and paste a link below.
    • Publish your video to the web (YouTube, TikTok, Vimeo, etc.) and copy the link here. Set permissions so people with the link may view. Availability to the public is optional.
    • In up to 100 words, share the thoughts behind your work.