Inspiring Our Future Leaders to Pursue Justice, Empathy & Fairness

The RESPECT Contest

Defining Respect for the Next Generation

Each year, the Arnold & Itkin Foundation invites students from Houston Area Elementary schools to participate in our RESPECT Contest. Students are asked to define the word “respect” in two sentences or less and draw a picture to complement their explanation. The Arnold & Itkin Foundation reviews every entry, and the winning students receive a donation to their school, a contribution to the charity of their choice, and a cash prize for themselves.

We think respect and justice go hand in hand. We started this project hoping to teach kids something about how to treat others, but it turns out, they taught us to have a broader definition of justice, and that has influenced our mission at the Arnold & Itkin Foundation. Jason Itkin

The 2017 RESPECT Contest

In 2017, students from Carpenter Elementary, Deer Park Elementary, Melillo Middle School, and Keller Middle School won donations for their school and their favorite charity.

The charities selected by these students include:

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Ima’s Home for Children
  • Elephants for Africa
  • The Houston Zoo Fund: Saving Animals in the Wild

We hope this program will help inspire our future leaders and citizens to think about what justice looks like on an everyday basis and how each of us can contribute to securing it for our neighbors.

The 2018 RESPECT Contest

Third Annual Respect ContestWe hosted the 3rd Annual Respect Contest awards ceremony on November 8, 2018 at the Harris County Civil Courthouse. We chose three winners from each school district who were awarded a cash prize for themselves, a donation to their school, and a donation to a charity of their choice.

The chosen charities were:

  • The Humane Society
  • St. Jude’s
  • Save the Children
  • National Down Syndrome Society
  • Food for the Poor
  • PAWS
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Houston SPCA

Matching donations were also made to De Zavala Middle School, Bobby Shaw Middle School, San Jacinto Elementary, Dabbs Elementary, Havard Elementary, Woodland Acres Elementary, and Bayshore Elementary. We were honored to have these students share their thoughts with us and are proud to support them, their schools, and the various charities chosen.

The 2019 RESPECT Contest

2019 Respect ContestOn November 14, 2019, we hosted the 4th Annual Respect Contest at the Harris County Civil Courthouse. Like the previous years, we invited 5th-grade students from local school districts to come and explain what respect means to them.

The charities chosen from this year's winners include the following:

  • Sunshine Kids
  • City of Pasadena Animal Shelter
  • American Red Cross
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Deer Park ISD Special Olympics
  • Autism Research Institute
  • Covenant House Texas
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation
  • Wild Heart Ranch Rescue & Rehabilitation
  • American Cancer Society

This year's schools included Bayshore Elementary, North Shore Elementary, Sam Houston Elementary, Havard Elementary, San Jacinto Elementary, Carpenter Elementary, Bobby Shaw Middle School, and De Zavala Middle School.

2020 Respect ContestThe 2020 RESPECT Contest

In November 2020, the Arnold & Itkin Foundation virtually hosted its 5th Annual RESPECT Contest. The challenges of 2020 made the underlying goals of the RESPECT contest more important than ever—even if it was virtual.

The charities the kids picked this year included:

  • The Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital
  • The Asperger/Autism Network
  • Houston Children’s Charity
  • The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc.
  • Big Brother & Big Sister Organization
  • Ronald McDonald House – Houston

The winning students were from James B. Harvard Elementary, San Jacinto Elementary, Fairmont Elementary, JP Dabbs Elementary, Bobby Shaw Middle School, De Zavala Middle School, Leo A. Rizzuto Elementary, and Bayshore Elementary. There were 12 winners in total.

The 2021 RESPECT Contest

2021 Respect ContestFor the sixth year in a row, the Arnold & Itkin Foundation hosted the RESPECT Contest. In 2021, the foundation gave out $24,000 in prizes to schools, charities, and students. The charities the kids picked this year included:

  • Make-A-Wish America
  • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Operation Homefront
  • Children's Defense Fund-Texas
  • Texas Children's Hospital
  • Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation
  • Save the Children US

Though we hosted the RESPECT Contest online in 2020, we were thrilled to hold it in person in 2021.

The 2022 RESPECT Contest

undefinedIn October 2022, the Arnold & Itkin Foundation hosted the 7th annual RESPECT Contest. We gave $21,600 in prize money in total to our winners, their schools, and the charity of their choice. We had another great batch of entries, with 12 winners from the Galena Park, Pasadena, La Porte, and Deer Park school districts.

The winning charities this year were:

  • Texas Children’s Hospital
  • St. Jude
  • American Brain Tumor Association
  • Feed the Children
  • Feeding America
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Food for the Hungry
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Memorial Herman Children’s Cancer Center

The 2023 RESPECT Contest

2023 RESPECT ContestCivility is a foundational value for a society built on laws, which is why the Arnold & Itkin Foundation started the RESPECT contest: to instill that value in the next generation. This year, more than 500 students from multiple school districts sent in artwork and essays about what respect means to them. The insights offered by these students give us hope for what the future holds. We chose the 12 strongest entries and provided those students with the grand prize of $3,000: $1,400 for their school, $1,400 for the charity of their choice, and $200 for the student themselves.

This year, the charities of choice included:

  • Texas Young Autism Project
  • Texas Children’s Hospital
  • St. Jude
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Red Cross
  • Communities in School of Houston
  • M.D. Anderson’s Cancer Center
  • And more!

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