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You have questions!  We have answers. Any great project requires thought and consideration before embarking on the journey.  Talk it over with your parents, guardians, best friends or teachers then check out these frequently asked questions about the project. If you have other questions not addressed here, please reach out via email @

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Unfiltered Reflection Project?


Unfiltered Reflection: The Voices and Stories of Gen Z is a collection of essays written by teens and for teens. These essays relate true life experiences. Empowered by the act of speaking their truth, teen writers can use their words to articulate their experiences, share their journeys, and pass on helpful knowledge through self expression and reflection with the goal of supporting others. 


Why is the Unfiltered Reflection Project seeking essays?


The Unfiltered Reflection Project is seeking submissions to create a collection of short essays written by those able to reflect on their own experiences. Whether the focus is mental health, identity, sexuality, or another topic altogether, these pieces offer windows into the lives of teens and validate their voices. Encountering the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of others, not only helps to develop understanding and empathy, but provides reassurance that no one is alone.


Hold on, what do you mean by ‘essay’? 


Essays should contain two main components

1. Your experiences (What happened? What did you do about it?) (500 words max)

2. Action steps/Resources (What  resources or strategies might help someone else experiencing what you did?) (250words max)


The experiences you convey in your piece should be true and based on your life. They should be conveyed from your point of view. Please write in the first person, and use your authentic voice.


Please remember that the essay should be anonymous. Teen writers should not share any identifying names or details.





Can I see a submission?


Sure! Please read over this example

Alright, I'm ready. How do I get started?


Please see the  How to Enter page.


Who is allowed to enter essays?

All teens (13-19) who reside in the United States are invited  to submit an ‘Interest Form.’ 


Can teachers and non-profit leaders enter essays on behalf of their classrooms/students?

While we encourage teachers to use the prompt as part of their coursework, students themselves need to engage in the submission process.


Is there a limit to how many essays a school, non-profit, after school program, or parent can enter?

There is no limit on how many students from one school or program can submit. There is a limit on entries on a per-person basis. Each teen may submit one essay. 


Are students enrolled in homeschools eligible?

Of course! All teens may enter.


What happens if two essays are submitted from the same student?

If two essays are submitted by the same student, only the first submission will be considered for acceptance. For that reason, entrants should submit final drafts.

Do you accept group entries?

No. All submissions are on an individual basis.


Am I allowed to enter artwork?

The team at the Unfiltered Reflection Project is working with a talented teen artist to illustrate the essays. Once your essay is accepted, someone from the team will reach out to you with a range of interesting questions. Your answers to these questions will guide the artist in developing images that reflect writers’ interests. 


If my essay is included, how will I be credited?


Those selected for inclusion in the collection can claim authorial credit, but all essays will be listed by aliases. In other words, authors will not  see their names, but they will know their essays are  included.


If my essay is included, will I be compensated? 


While there is no monetary compensation for inclusion, those whose essays are selected will receive 1) a certificate acknowledging inclusion in the collection that can be used on resumes or CVs, 2) a free copy of the essay collection for their school’s library, 3) a vote regarding which youth-centered charity will receive a portion of the book’s royalties. 


Additionally, included authors can have the satisfaction of knowing that their piece may positively contribute to other adolescents’ lives. Everyone struggles with different challenges. The power of a single story, a single connection, a single ray of hope cannot be overstated. 


What if I change my mind?

This is a partnership. Members of the Unfiltered Reflection Team are so grateful for teen authors who submit their work. In recognition that this type of writing is personal, challenging, and important, the team respects your right to withdraw your draft. Final decisions regarding inclusion must be conveyed in writing by April 15th, 2023.



How are essays selected? 

The Unfiltered Reflection Project Team will be reading and reviewing all essay submissions. Each piece will be assessed for a variety of characteristics - including but not limited to 1) Clarity (Is the writing clear and easy to understand?), 2) Cohesion (Is the writing focused on one issue?) , 3) Authenticity (Is the author the right person to write about the topic?), 4) Voice (Is the author’s voice unique, creative, and compelling?), 5) Quality of Resources (Are the resources intentional, purposeful, and well-chosen?).


Will the Unfiltered Reflection Team suggest revisions?


While the goal is to preserve your voice on the page, the Unfiltered Reflection Project Team will likely offer revisions and edits. They may also ask for additional information and resources.  It is important to remember that even those essays selected for development may not be included in the final collection.


How will I know if my essay idea has been selected?


All communication throughout the submission process will be between the Unfiltered Reflection Team and the teen authors, their guardians, and mentors. No matter what you’re submitting (an initial  ‘Interest Form’ or an essay), you can expect to hear back from the Unfiltered Reflections Team within two weeks. Please contact the Unfiltered Reflection Team here if more than two weeks have passed since the date of submission.

Wait - I have another question!

Can't find the information you are looking for here?  Send us an email.  If you are wondering about it, other people probably are too!  Email the team @  We are looking forward to hearing from you!


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We can change the world and make it a better place.  It is in your hands to make a difference. -Nelson Mandela

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