February 1– March 31, 2023

Contest Details

High school students in grades 9 through 12 who reside in Polk County can submit one essay in response to the following prompt:

Why is civic engagement and the need for civil discourse important in our current political climate?

Students will be judged for the content of their essay, and 10 finalists will advance to the second round of judging. These top ten finalists will submit a video reading their essays, which will be reviewed by a panel of five judges. The top 3 winners will be announced on April 28, 2023 via the ACPL website. Judges will include local college professors and community leaders.

  • Submission deadline: March 31, 2023
  • Finalists selected: April 21, 2023
  • Winners announced: April 28, 2023


Please submit your essay via email to acpl@seu.edu. In order for your entry to be valid, your email must include the following information:

  • Student First & Last Name
  • Student Email Address & Phone Number
  • Current Grade Level
  • High School Name, Address and Phone Number
  • Parent/Guardian First & Last Name
  • Parent/Guardian Email Address & Phone Number

Contest Overview

As the political climate in our society becomes increasingly polarized, civil discourse and civic engagement remain a necessity to unify our nation and advance our democracy forward. The American Center for Political Leadership (ACPL) at Southeastern University is hosting its second annual essay contest centered around civil discourse and civic engagement. 

High school students can win up to $1,500 in scholarship prize money with a winning essay for the American Center for Political Leadership Civic Initiative Essay Contest.

Awards

Ten finalists will be selected to advance to the second round of judging, where the top ten essays will be reviewed by a panel of five judges. On April 28, 2023, three winners will be announced. The scholarship award for first place is $1,500, second place is $1,000 and third place is $500.

Eligibility & Rules

This essay contest is open to high school students in grades 9 through 12 who reside in Polk County, including students attending public, private, parochial and charter institutions, and homeschooled students of equivalent grade status.

  • The contest deadline is March 31, 2023, at 11:59 p.m.
  • Essays may not exceed 1,000 words. Citations and bibliography are excluded from the word count.
  • Essays must be the original intellectual and written work of the student. Plagiarism is strictly prohibited.
  • Essays must have a minimum of 3 sources.
  • Essays must be typed and submitted as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) document
  • Essays must be double spaced
  • Essays must be in 12 point Times New Roman
  • Essays must include a cover page, including the full name of the student, the name of the school or homeschool and the word count
  • Essays must respond to the prompt.
  • Essays must be written in MLA, APA or Turabian formats.
  • Essays must include a bibliography

All essays must be submitted online via this website, or through the mail. Mail must be postmarked by March 31, 2023.

The judging panel will consist of five judges, comprised of college professors and community leaders. They will evaluate each piece based on its content and presentation.

Content

  • Use of sources
  • Thorough research

 

Presentation

  • Grammar, spelling and composition
  • Clarity and effectiveness in analyzing what civic engagement is and what civil discourse means

 

Disqualifying factors

  • Plagiarism
  • Use of less than 3 sources
  • Submissions in a format other than MLA, APA or Turabian.

FAQs

A. Please submit your essay via email to acpl@seu.edu. In order for your entry to be valid, your email must include the following information:

  • Student First & Last Name
  • Student Email Address & Phone Number
  • Current Grade Level
  • High School Name, Address and Phone Number 
  • Parent/Guardian First & Last Name
  • Parent/Guardian Email Address & Phone Number

A. High school students in grades 9 through 12 who reside in Polk County, Florida.

A. The scholarship will be given as a cash prize and recipients have the freedom to apply the scholarship to the college or university of their choice.

A. Yes. Teachers, parents and friends are permitted to proofread your essay as proofreading is not considered plagiarism. The essay in its entirety should be original content formulated and written by the student.

The American Center for Political Leadership at Southeastern University stands at the intersection of cutting-edge education and trailblazing research.

Contact the ACPL

For general inquiries or media requests, here’s how to reach us.

American Center for Political Leadership

1000 Longfellow Blvd, Lakeland, FL 33801

acpl@seu.edu | 863.667.5051

© American Center for Political Leadership 2020
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Southeastern University