Breaking Barriers essay contest underway

Entries in English, Spanish accepted through March 14

January 10th, 2017

This spring will mark the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, and entries are being accepted through March 14 in the Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life educational program and essay contest, which has reached more than 31 million youth in teaching the Hall of Famer's core values.

Essays will be accepted in both English and Spanish for the first time in the 21-year history of the program, which was developed by Major League Baseball, Scholastic and Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter and an MLB educational programming consultant. Educators and parents throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico can enter students now at

"We are so proud to offer the first bilingual option for Breaking Barriers, which will open up our program to even more children," said Sharon Robinson, who founded Breaking Barriers. "Scholastic has been a tremendous partner in reaching educators and we thank all the teachers and parents who have been supportive in our collective effort. It is a privilege to share my father's story with students, especially those who see similarities between his experience and their own personal barriers. Our hope is that Breaking Barriers will continue to reach thousands of young people who are seeking inspiration as they discover their own inner strength to overcome what seem like insurmountable obstacles."

The Grand Prize winner in grades 4-6 will earn the opportunity to attend and be honored at the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami, and the Grand Prize winner in grades 7-9 will receive the opportunity to attend and be honored at a game during the 113th World Series. Ten students overall will be honored with prizes. In all, two Grand Prize winners, two MVP winners and six All-Star Prize winners will be chosen between the two grade groups.

Each of the 10 prize winners will receive a laptop computer and prizes for their class, including Breaking Barriers T-shirts and books written by Sharon Robinson. The four Grand Prize and MVP Prize winners will each receive a personal classroom visit from Robinson, and their teachers also will receive a laptop.

The essay contest encourages students from across the country to write about how they are facing or were able to overcome personal obstacles or barriers in their own lives through the example set forth by Jackie Robinson, who became MLB's first African-American player when he started for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Breaking Barriers focuses on nine values: courage, teamwork, determination, persistence, integrity, citizenship, justice, commitment and excellence.

Over the last four years, Breaking Barriers has averaged more than 17,000 essay submissions annually for consideration.

Since its inception in 1997, Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life has reached 4.2 million educators in the continental U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. It has been utilized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) as part of the character development and educational focuses of both youth-oriented organizations.

"Every year, the essays we receive remind us of how resilient students can be and how, when utilizing personal values like Jackie's, we can truly overcome the most incredible challenges," said Ann Amstutz Hayes, senior vice president at Scholastic. "We are proud that Breaking Barriers is a program teachers turn to every year to provide students with a creative platform to express themselves and to share their incredible stories."

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