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Dear Contestants and Contributors,

We’re excited to once again launch another edition of the Yakezie Writing Contest!  The YWC’s goal is to award money to deserving contestants who will use the funds to further their education.  The money can go towards tuition, books, application fees, and other costs which make furthering one’s education cumbersome at times.

Although you cannot touch education, we believe education is critical to success.  It’s often hard to see the value of that which we cannot see, but we can promise that education is fundamental in getting a job in a field you like, building a business, and giving you the optionality to do more!

As a community of bloggers, every week we put thoughts to words for the world to see.  Sometimes we write about a fear that debilitates our every move.  Other times, we seek advice on which fork to take.  Often we share with readers our own experiences so you will be better prepared when your turn comes.  Through these words, we’ve made friends and found support in areas we thought never existed.  Communication is wonderful, and we hope you can share your wonder with us.

At the Yakezie Network’s very core is the culture of giving back, and we cannot be more honored to support educational endeavors through this process.  Recently, I had the privilege of working with a FS Online Services client and would like to commit $500 of the earnings towards the YWC.  The Yakezie Network as a whole will be raising more than $1,000 in educational money for at least three winning contestants in a $500, $300, and $200 ratio.  Depending on contributions, we’d like to award two more contestants $100 each for a total of five winners.

THE VOTING PROCESS

We’re going to do things a little differently this time.  Votes will be tallied based on the number of comments each finalist has.  The comment can share your thoughts about the essay and should be accompanied with a “THUMBS UP” written out.  We’re going old school, with less technology to make things easier and more visceral.  In the past, contestants didn’t know where they stood in the vote, so now everything is visible to everyone.

You must register as a user on yakezie.com in order to vote as this is the only way to keep track.  (To register: click on the Login button at the top of the page, and click Register).  Only one vote/comment is allowed per person and we have software that will tell us otherwise.  Votes will be allowed up until a deadline period when we will then count and compare.

Finally, if you are a contestant, you must sign up for our Yakezie RSS feed or follow us on Facebook to keep in touch and check back regularly.  There will be intermittent updates throughout the contest and we will post the winners of the contest on Yakezie.com.

THE AWARDS

Minimum amounts:

1st Place: $500

2nd Place: $300

3rd Place: $200

Based on funds there may be:

4th Place: $100

5th Place: $100

I will contribute $500, and will personally guarantee that at least $1,000 will be raised and awarded.  If more money is raised,the 1st to 3rd place ratio will remain at 50/30/20, followed by $100 each for 4th and 5th place.  For example, if $2,000 is raised, we will set aside $200 for a 4th and 5th place and divide $1,800 by 50/30/20 = $900, $540, $320.

THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION

The deadline for essay submission is 1pm PST on Saturday, June 23.  We will then go through the essays and select the finalists to be published on Yakezie.com.  We are unsure of the number of submissions, but given our bandwidth we are limiting the number of applicants to 100.  If for some reason there are 1,000+ applicants like there were in a previous contest, we will review them all by calling in reinforcements and increase the number of published finalists by 2X.  We aim to have at least 10 published finalists and up to 20 if needed.  One or two posts will be published a day.

Please send all essays to ywc@yakezie.com with your name, age, contact information, where you first heard about the contest, and a statement as to what you plan to do with the money if you win.  Your statement is an oath that you will use the money for its intended educational purposes.  You are welcome to attach in a picture of yourself or something relevant to your writing when you submit your essay.  We’ve found that the more you can connect with your audience, the better your outcome.

ESSAY QUESTIONS

Please choose one essay question(s) bullet to answer.  Each bullet provides a multiple of relevant questions which may help you craft your essay.  You do not have to answer all questions in each bullet.

The minimum length is 750 words and the maximum length is 1,500 words.  No submission will be accepted under 750 or over 1,500 words long.

When choosing an essay, please think about which question most loudly resonates with your beliefs and who you are.  Also think about a question that others most likely will choose, then try and choose another.

* Please tell us about a hardship you overcame.  What did you learn from your experience?  Why did you go through the hardship?

* What is your definition of “rich”?  Are you rich right now?  If not, how do you plan to become rich?  Is there such thing as rich if there is no poor?  What does being poor mean to you?

* Please tell us a story of someone you used to dislike, but now you look up to.  The person can be a friend, family member, or public figure.  Why did you dislike this person in the beginning, and what changed?

* What is more important: nature or nurture?  Can you share with us examples of where nature triumphed and vice versa?  What did you learn from your parents that are part of you today?

* Who do you think will win the Presidency of the United States in 2012 and why?  Who would be a good Vice President and why?  Why do you think there is so much non action in Washington?  Don’t we all want what’s best for our country and our loved ones?

* Peer pressure is ubiquitous in school.  Have you ever given in to peer pressure only to have regrets later on?  Why do people think it’s cool to do poorly in school and skip class?  Do students not realize that doing well in school gives them the optionality to do more things in life?

* Recent studies have suggested the social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter make people more lonely.  Do you believe this to be the case?  How have you used social media to help others and further your own education if at all?

* Tell us about an experience you had traveling abroad, or an encounter with another culture.  What were some of the cultural differences that stood out?  What did you learn from your experience abroad?  What do you think about American culture?  Why do you think Americans are so limited in their language abilities?

EXAMPLES OF PREVIOUS WINNERS

* Memories

* El Aguacate

* What My Parents Don’t Know

We encourage you to read all three essays to get an idea of what voters enjoyed the most.  It’s not only important to write well, but to also market yourself well.  The winners not only wrote well but also expertly marketed their essays to others to vote on.  They used Facebook, Twitter, family and friends to help them win.

ESSAY FINALIST CRITERIA TO BE PUBLISHED ON YAKEZIE.COM

* 750-1,500 words long.  Essays shorter or longer will not be accepted.

* Has a unique voice.  Take us away by telling us a story.  You are free to write in any style you like.  You can include comedy, imagery, poetry, and much more.

* Proper grammar and punctuation.  Please review your essay at least three times and have a friend or relative review your essay a couple more times.

* Must be submitted by 1pm PST on Saturday, June 23 to ywc@yakezie.com.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO YWC

Yakezie Members are free to post their contribution amounts in the private forums.  We’ve created a sign up sheet to make it easy to keep track and total the amounts.

For non Yakezie Members who would like to contribute, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at financialsamurai AT gmail DOT com.  No contribution is too small.

Please note, contributions are not tax deductible as we are not a registered non-profit organization.

BEST OF LUCK EVERYONE!

If you have any questions about the process, feel free to comment below and we will answer.  The spirit of the Yakezie Writing Contest is to make an effort, market yourself, and learn.  Even if you do not win, you will have at least tried.  Trying and perseverance is half the battle to becoming successful in everything you do.

Good luck!

The Yakezie Writing Contest Committee (YWCC)