More About This Website

This website was created by Research Idaho to support new club building in the Pacific Northwest District of Optimist International.  We hope that you will find the information helpful wherever your club or district is located.  Please direct questions or comments to:

Linda Vaught





optimistyouthspeaker.jpgOptimist Clubs foster leadership

Optimist International endorses different programs every year that will help build character and develop positive leadership among youth and adults. Following are some programs that Optimist Clubs can choose to sponsor, but the level of involvement depends on the personality of your club. Do you want to hold a contest? Do you want to help the participants prepare for the contest? Would you prefer to throw a party, take a field trip or provide access to other resources?

There is no wrong answer because the students in your community will benefit, no matter what your involvement! Choose a project and get started today.


Scholarship Contests

Essay Contest - "How Dreams Lead to Success"

The essay contest is open to youth under the age of 18 as of December 31, 2013. It allows students to develop opinions and express them openly in written form. The contest is held on two levels: Club and District. The District First Place winner receives a $2,500 scholarship. 

Clubs must have their entry to the District Chair by February 28, 2014. Districts must submit their winning essay to Optimist International by April 15, 2014. These are not the deadlines for students to submit their essays. Essays must be submitted to their local Optimist Club by the date determined by the club. Club level contests are completed by early February.

Essay contest participant entry form (must be submitted to a sponsoring club) Find a club near you.

Planning guides: Club Contest      District Contest

Oratorical Contest - "How My Passions Impact the World"

First conducted in 1928, the Optimist Oratorical Contest is one of the most popular programs for Optimist Clubs. More than $150,000 in scholarships are given annually to winners of district oratorical contests. The competition is open to students under the age of 19 who have not yet graduated from high school. This competition is held on three levels: Club, Zone and District.

Optimist Clubs should plan to conduct this event no later than April 2014 to meet all levels of competition. Check with your District Oratorical Chairman to confirm zone, regional and district level contest dates. Winners must be submitted to Optimist International by June 15, 2014. 

Oratorical participant entry form (must start with a sponsoring Optimist Club) Find a club near you.

Planning guides: Club      District

Some clubs choose to work with younger speakers to develop their skills. Although no scholarships are involved, "Kids Speak Out" is a great mentoring opportunity for your club and a wonderful way to build confident presenters for future competitions.

Kids Speak Out Planning Guide


Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) - "How My Passions Impact the World"

This contest offers a fun opportunity for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to present their thoughts in the community, gaining skills which can only come from signing or speaking to a large audience. Patterned after the Optimist Oratorical Contest, the Communication Contest For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing offers hearing impaired youth the chance to compete in speech or sign language. Districts meeting minimum entry criteria can award $2,500 scholarships from the Optimist International Foundation. It is opent to students through Grade 12 in the US and Canada. See complete qualification guidelines here.

CCDHH participant entry form Planning guides: Club      District




Non-scholarship programs 

Some of the best programs are the ones where the program is in itself the reward. Some of the most popular, time-honored traditions are listed here, but we welcome your additions! Tell us what programs you conduct that make your students feel special.

Respect for Law

Teach the youth of your community to respect authority, participate in the public process, vote and become good citizens. Your projects can vary from "Mayor and City Council for the Day" to a "Scared Straight" program at a local jail. This project can take place at anytime during the year. We recommend choosing a date and conducting it annually at the same general time. The kids look forward to it!

Respect for Law Ideas

Youth Appreciation

This is one of the easiest programs to conduct because it is completely scaleable! It can be as big or as small as you want to make it and you can do it anytime you want to do it! We recommend that you choose to recognize some of the unsung heroes - those students that make a quiet difference with little recognition. (No jocks please!) Choose a group of students for something - anything - they do right.

Youth Appreciation Guide

Youth Safety

Because our kids can never be safe enough, Optimist Youth Safety incorporates ideas to help kids learn to protect themselves in all situations, whether they are riding their skateboards or surfing the Internet. Get involved with the kids of your community by teaching them how and why to be safe.

Youth Safety Planning

Internet Safety 

Faux Paws the Techno Cat, a collaboration with

Tri Star Sports

Tri-Star Sports Skills Contests are designed for youth ages 8-13, and test three skills in the sport of your choice:

  • Baseball: Base-running, hitting, and throwing Basketball: Dribbling, passing, and shooting
  • Football: Passing, place-kicking, and punting
  • Soccer: Dribbling, shooting, and throwing
  • Hockey: Shooting, skating, and stick-handling


Tri Star Sports Planning Guide