D4D Competition - Letters to an Elected Official
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Project Pericles is once again hosting the Letters to an Elected Official Competition, as part of the Debate for Democracy 2015 National Legislative Hearing. Five teams from the 29 Periclean Colleges will be selected to compete to win $3,000 to fund advocacy and education activities including lobbying trips and workshops in the next year on behalf of their causes! The four national "runners-up" teams will each receive $500 to advocate for their causes.
Rensselaer Students: In order to be eligible to participate
in the Letters to an Elected Official Competition as a
Rensselaer team, you must -
- a) be full-time undergraduate students;
- b) be freshmen, sophomores, or juniors as defined by the Registrar, who will be returning to campus in the 2015-16 academic year;
- c) write a letter to an elected official per the guidelines provided; and
- d) submit your letter to Cynthia Smith, the Project Pericles Program Director at Rensselaer, no later than Wed., January 28 for consideration.
A team of Rensselaer faculty and staff judges will review all the submissions, and will rank and select up to 4 letters to move forward in the national competition, no later than Mon., February 2. The selected teams must mail their letters to the elected official by February 2, 2015. If one of Rensselaer's four team letters is chosen to compete nationally, that team will travel to NYC to attend the National Conference and compete, all expenses paid. If none of our letters is chosen, Rensselaer will select its highest ranked team to go to the conference, all expenses paid.
Letters submitted by the 29 Periclean campuses for the
national competition will be reviewed by a committee selected
by the national Project Pericles office, and will consist of
people with significant experience working with public policy;
they will announce the 5 winning teams by mid- March, using the
Judging Criteria: The evaluation of each letter will rest on the students’ success at conducting high quality policy analysis and research; clarity of presentation; and adherence to the rules detailed on pages 3-4. The five letters that do the best job of meeting the following criteria will be selected as finalists and win awards:
Policy Analysis and Research: The most
important aspect of the letter is the quality of the
analysis and research, which determines 65% of the
evaluation. The evaluation will rest on each team’s success
at identifying a federal or state policy problem in their
letter, proposing a solution to the problem they
identified, and conducting and interpreting research to
bolster their letter.
- Does the letter identify one federal or state public policy issue and explain how this issue impacts the students and their community?
- Does the letter recommend one legislative solution? Is the legislative solution feasible economically and politically?
- Does the letter contain logical judgment and analysis?
- Does the proposal demonstrate the use of primary and/or secondary resources to bolster their argument?
- Does the letter demonstrate an understanding of the historical context of the problem and solution being discussed?
Clarity of Presentation: Although the
ability of the students to prepare a letter that meets all
of the criteria discussed in the previous section is
important, the ability to write a clear and compelling
letter will also be considered. In addition to a logical
argument, persuasive letters frequently include a
compelling narrative about how the issue impacts the
authors or other constituents. This section is worth 35% of
the total evaluation.
- Is the letter effective in communicating the significance of the problem and the solution?
- Do the authors offer a compelling narrative? Please keep in mind that legislative staff members are reviewing hundreds of pieces of mail each day. Explaining the personal significance of an issue for the authors or other constituents and making an emotional or values based appeal can be part of writing a persuasive letter.
- Do the authors make a compelling case as constituents? Is there a tie-in to either the authors or other constituents from the congresspersons district?
- Is the written material clear and grammatically correct?
The complete rules guidelines for the Letter to an Elected Official Competition are available in the Debating for Democracy 2015 Letters to An Elected Official Competition Guidelines. For more information email Rensselaer's Project Pericles Program Director.