Debating for Democracy (D4D)™ is a  distinctive campus-based co-curricular program that represents the mission of Project Pericles in action. On each campus, Periclean students research, develop, and advocate their opinions and positions on current public policy issues. Students will produce a co-written, two page letter to an elected official advocating for a legislative response to a current issue. The primary goal of D4D is to inspire and encourage all participants to become successful and resourceful advocates in their community. Out of the thirty Periclean institutions, five winning teams will be selected to receive $500 towards mobilizing on their issue back at their home college the following year. To get involved or for more information contact: Jessica Chairez, Assistant Director for Community Engagement .

LETTER WRITING- INITIAL STUDENT POLICY PROPOSAL LETTERS
DUE : MONDAY, MARCH 6TH, 2023

LETTER WRITING- INITIAL STUDENT POLICY PROPOSAL LETTERS
DUE : WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15TH, 2023

ELIGIBILTY

  • be a full-time undergraduate at a Periclean campus
  • be a first, second, or third year student as defined by their college or university during Spring 2023
  • be returning to campus for the 2023-2024 academic year to ensure that winning teams can work on their issues
  • write and mail a letter to an elected official, and e) provide a project proposal

LETTER AND PROJECT PROPOSAL WRITING GUIDELINES

  • The letter must be on a state or federal issue. Letters on local issues will not be eligible. The majority of local issues are also important federal and state issues.
  • The body of the letter may not exceed 1200 words (excluding footnotes and project proposal).
  • Students must identify their elected official and their address. Since the authors will be urging their elected official to support or oppose a legislative solution, they will want to select the official who will be most responsive to their letter. This website will help identify federal and state elected officials.       
  • A copy of the letter must be mailed to the elected official by March 16, 2023.
  • The letter must begin with the phrase “Dear Representative (last name)” or Dear Senator (last name)” and be addressed correctly.
  • The letter should begin with a sentence that tells the elected official exactly what the student wants them to do. The first sentence in the letter on page 5 provides an example.
  • The letter should contain the student’s mailing address so that the elected official can confirm them as a constituent and the elected official can write back.
  • The students must sign and date their letter.
  • All primary and secondary sources used in preparing the proposal must be cited.
  • The project proposal should not exceed two pages.

SELECTION

Students must submit their letter and project proposal to their Project Pericles Program Director by Friday, March 10, 2023 (you are welcome to set internal deadlines that are earlier). The Program Director will review each letter and select up to four letters and accompanying project proposals to forward to Project Pericles. By Thursday, March 16, 2023, 5 PM ET all letters should be submitted (in Microsoft Word) by Program Directors to Jan Liss ([email protected]). A copy of the letter must also be mailed by March 16 from the students to the appropriate U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, State Senator, or State Representative. The names of all of the students who worked on each letter must be clearly identified.

A committee consisting of evaluators, with significant experience in public policy will review the submitted letters and project proposals. Using the criteria below, and they will select the winning teams for the 2023 D4D competition. We will announce the five winning teams in April 2023.

ELIGIBILTIY (ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES)

  • Two or more students must work on the letter and project proposal.
  • Students who were finalists (meaning they received an award) in a previous year are not eligible to participate.
  • No student can co-author more than one submitted letter.

AWARD

  • Project Pericles will provide a $500 award to each of the five winning teams.
  • Students can use this money to fund advocacy and educational activities including advocacy trips and workshops. Project Pericles staff will work with the winning teams to develop their advocacy and education activities. Teams that have won this award in the past have organized mobilizing campaigns on their campuses, led trainings, and offered informative events including documentary screenings, election debates, panel discussions, etc. Teams have also traveled to Washington, D.C. or to their state capital to meet with members of Congress or their legislators and their staffs to discuss the issues raised in their letters

D4D SUPPORT AND RESOURCES

Have you visited the Writing Center? Whether you’re just beginning your letter or need help on final edits, the Writing Center is a great resource! Set up an appointment today!

The following resources will assist students in writing their letter:

  • A letter written by students at Earlham College that was selected as the winner at the 2012 D4D Legislative Hearing appears on pages 5-8. This letter is an excellent model. The five letters that were selected for the 2012 legislative hearing can be viewed at https://www.projectpericles.org
  • THOMAS was launched in January of 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. The website provides detailed federal legislative information to the public. https://thomas.loc.gov/
  • C-SPAN is a private, non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service. Its mission is to provide public access to the political process. The C-SPAN website contains a wealth of information including video of Congressional hearings related to a number of federal policy issues. https://www.c-span.org
  • National Journal Group is the leading source of nonpartisan reporting on the current political environment and emerging policy trends.https://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/
  • The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories.  The NCSL website provides research and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues. https://www.ncsl.org/
  • Earlham College juniors David Schutt and Clara Stuligross recently completed a video on how to communicate effectively with elected officials. Schutt and Stuligross emphasize that elected officials pay attention to constituents who reach out to them. By engaging with elected officials, individuals and groups can have a significant impact on issues – a view that echoes the underlying philosophy of the D4D Program. In the video, Representative Tonko comments, “Constituent interaction is absolutely critical. It’s not only helpful; it’s essential.”https://youtu.be/wmJGCcgLtho

Debating for Democracy (D4D) Winning Letters of 2019
Students at Periclean colleges and universities were encouraged to write a letter to a federal or state elected official on a public policy issue that impacts their community. In February, student teams mailed their letters to their elected officials and also submitted copies to Project Pericles. A panel of judges with substantial legislative experience selected these five finalist letters which provide successful examples; winning teams for most recent year were Pitzer College and Whitman College.

Effective Communication With Elected Officials – Tips And Tricks From Those On The Inside – D4D
Earlham College juniors David Schutt and Clara Stuligross recently completed a video on how to communicate effectively with elected officials. Schutt and Stuligross emphasize that elected officials pay attention to constituents who reach out to them. By engaging with elected officials, individuals and groups can have a significant impact on issues – a view that echoes the underlying philosophy of the D4D Program. In the video, Representative Tonko comments, “Constituent interaction is absolutely critical. It’s not only helpful; it’s essential.”

California Legislator Tracker