It’s a way of paying tribute to those who inspire – while providing educational opportunities for the next generation of leaders.

The 2020 Regions Riding Forward Scholarship Essay Contest is under way. The contest is a key part of Regions’ recognition of February as Black History Month. Since the contest started nine years ago, it has provided more than $1 million in funding to nearly 250 high school and college students.

Here’s how the contest works:

  • Through Feb. 29, high school seniors and undergraduate college freshmen, sophomores and juniors are encouraged to submit 500-word essays honoring an African-American who has been an inspiration in the applicant’s life.
  • Essays will be judged by an independent panel, with winners announced by Regions later this summer. Winning essays will also be published on
  • Scholarships will include a total of 15 awards of $5,000 each for high school winners and 15 awards of $3,500 each for winners who are currently enrolled as college students.
  • One high school winner and one college winner will be selected from each of the 15 states served by Regions branches.

“Every year, we receive incredible essays shining a light on how people ranging from local heroes to global celebrities, historical figures, teachers, family members, or others are making a positive impact on today’s youth,” said Michele Elrod, head of Corporate Marketing for Regions Bank. “Through Regions Riding Forward, we are honored to celebrate the legacy of leadership provided by those who inspire these essays. And we encourage students throughout our communities to think of the person you would like to honor – and share their story of leadership and inspiration with us.”