• I, Too, Am the Dream Contest

The submission period for the 2020 I, Too, Am the Dream Contest is now closed.


Yasmine Bolden

Alexandria, VA

Malachi Levy

Bear Creek, NC

Antonio Preciado

Inglewood, CA


Eden Blanford

Seattle, WA

Emily Durigan

Cranston, RI

Noah Flood

Decatur, AL

Aya Hamza

Miami, FL

Taylor Koons

Hilliard, OH

Molly McNulty

Shreveport, LA

Anika Mistry

Scotts Valley, CA

Aditya Prasad

Bellaire, TX

Heather Roselle

Point Pleasant, NJ

Kenia Velasco

Los Angeles, CA

The first ever I, Too, Am the Dream Contest seeks to engage high school seniors in describing dynamic stories that have propelled themselves and others to pursue and achieve their own American Dream. It empowers students to reimagine an inclusive and evolving vision of opportunity and access and to drive a bold national conversation about how to advance and grow the American Dream, now and into the future.

Submit an essay, poem, spoken word, or short story of 1,000 words or fewer using the following prompt:

The story of the American Dream is one of aspiration, potential, hope, and dynamic tensions – opportunity and injustice, achievement and inequity, and triumph and challenge. Some have argued that the Dream is more of a myth than a reality. Many, who challenge the conventional understanding of the American Dream, cultivate a more inclusive and expansive vision of the Dream. They embrace the invitation to be ambassadors for advancing the American Dream, securing the Dream for future generations. Drawing on your own personal experience and/or the experiences of others, describe your vision for a reimagined American Dream and how you envision advancing it for yourself and others.

  • Submissions must be written and may be in the form of an essay, poetry, spoken word, or short story.

  • Submissions must be the original work of the student.

  • Submissions can be no more than 1,000 words. Citations and bibliography are not included in the word count.

  • One submission per student only.

The contest is open to United States high school seniors in the 2020-21 school year, including students attending public, private, parochial, or home schools in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. territories, and attending U.S. schools overseas.

Employees and affiliates of the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, the Milken Institute, and The Milken Family Foundation are not eligible to participate.

Three winners each receive:

  • A $5,000 cash award.
  • A mentor to provide consultation, guidance and counsel for their senior year and beyond.
  • Professional coaching to create a video of their submission.
  • An invitation to Washington, DC for the opening of the Center for Advancing the American Dream for them and their families.

Winners and 15 finalists will receive:

  • The opportunity to serve on panels and meet with education leaders to discuss their submission about advancing the American Dream.
  • The opportunity to have their submissions featured on the Center’s website and publications, and in its Visitor Center when open.

By entering, you agree that your submission will become the property of the Center for Advancing the American Dream and will not be returned. The Center for Advancing the American Dream reserves the right to print, display, and publicize all submissions and photographs of the contest winners.

A team of judges will evaluate the submissions against a standardized rubric, which aims to help anchor the subjective interpretations of judges, and emotional impact of submissions, in a common language. Judges will grade submissions in the following five categories equally:

  • Development & Communication of Ideas
  • Perspective & Voice
  • Originality & Quality of Ideas
  • Inclusive & Compelling Call-to-Action
  • Overall Impact

Decisions of the I, Too, Am the Dream Contest judges are final. Finalists and winners will be notified by email by October 29, 2020.

Download a PDF of the detailed contest rubric here.

The submission period for the 2020 contest has closed. 

Download full submission rules and requirements here.

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