09 May 2012

The National Foundation for Women Legislators' 15th Bill of Rights Essay Scholarship Contest (USA)

Post date: 09 May 2012
Deadline: 31 July 2012

Each year, NFWL and the NRA join forces to provide seven female High School juniors or seniors an award, a $3,000 college scholarship and an all-expense-paid trip to NFWL’s 2012 Annual Conference. The Conference will take place November 15-19th at The Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, Georgia. Applicants will be required to secure a sponsoring state legislator who will attend the entire conference with them, if they should win. Following, are detailed instructions concerning the contest, essay topic, and selection process.


Complete applications should include:

1. Completed Essay Contest Verification Form (with a copy sent in advance)
2. Two (2) copies of your essay
3. Two (2) personal reference letters
4. The name of applicant’s sponsoring female state legislator*

*All applicants must be sponsored by a woman state legislator for this contest. To find a woman legislator in your state, visit your state legislature’s website. The sponsoring legislator does not have to be from the applicant’s district, but she does have to be from the applicant’s state. Any applicants experiencing trouble locating a woman legislator in their state should contact the NFWL office for assistance well in advance of the contest deadline.

IMPORTANT: In advance of the July 31st deadline applicants must send in a completed Essay Contest Verification Form to NFWL by fax, mail or email (PDF document). This form should be sent in prior to the submission of your entire application so NFWL can communicate with the applicant and sponsoring legislator regarding any changes with the essay contest or Annual Conference arrangements before the deadline.

ELIGIBILITY: To be eligible for this year’s essay contest, applicants must be college-bound female high school juniors or seniors – Class of 2012 or Class of 2013. All applicants are required to secure a woman state legislator as a sponsor. The seven contest winners and their sponsoring legislators also must be able to attend the entire NFWL Annual Conference where students will be presented with the award. The Conference will take place November 15-19, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. All travel and lodging expenses for the Annual Conference will be covered by the National Foundation for Women Legislators for the both winning students and their sponsoring legislators.

DEADLINE: Your essay must arrive or be postmarked to the NFWL office no later than Tuesday, July 31st, 2012. Essays received after this date may not be considered for the contest.

2012 NFWL-NRA Bill of Rights National Essay Scholarship Topic: “The Constitution and States Rights: How Federalism Impacts Women and Historically Underrepresented Populations”

In the current Presidential election, candidates and political pundits have been particularly concerned with the role of states’ rights. Issues such as energy, education, and job creation have dominated the conversation, and many are questioning whether these issues should be addressed by individual states or the federal government.

The question of states’ rights versus the federal government has existed since the framers first sat down to draft our Constitution. Careful to establish checks and balances to avoid the emergence of a King, the framers emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of people to create legislation within their own states about issues that didn’t relate to the entire Union. The Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, for example, established the principle of federalism — the term used to define the relationship between the states and the federal government.
Energy, education, job creation and other significant policy changes are at stake in the coming election. Each of these policy areas has a sizable impact on women and historically underrepresented populations.

GUIDELINES: This year’s essay topic is “The Constitution and States Rights: How Federalism Impacts Women and Historically Underrepresented Populations.” Write a 400-600 word essay on the role states should have in addressing a specific policy area being discussed today. The question to address is, what role do you believe the states should have in determining the future of a given policy area, based on your understanding of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution? How might women and minorities specifically be affected by decisions made at the state level versus decisions from the federal level?

For this essay, please choose one policy initiative from the following list, and determine how women and historically underrepresented populations would be specifically impacted should that issue be addressed at the state or federal level. (Note: topics must fall under one of the following policy areas in order to be considered.)

  • Economic Empowerment & Job Creation
  • Energy & Environment
  • Individual Security & Privacy
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Nutrition & Wellness

For example, you might consider the impact education policy has on women and other historically underrepresented communities, and then decide whether you believe it should be addressed at the state or federal level based on your interpretation of states’ rights as enumerated within the Bill of Rights.

You may also consider the role special interest groups and non-governmental organizations play in shaping the debate on a specific policy area.

IMPORTANT: The Scholarship Committee will weigh four specific elements in submissions: In addition to the basics of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and writing style, the judges will be looking for essays with (1) historical research, insight and perspective, (2) demonstrated understanding of the American Constitution and Bill of Rights as a whole, (3) inspirational quality and (4) meaningful personal connection.

FORMAT: 400-600 words, single spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman. Please remember to submit two (2) copies.

Download the essay contest form here.


For inquiries: questions may be directed to the NFWL office at (202) 293-3040, ext. 1005, or events@womenlegislators.org

For submissions: send your completed essay application to National Foundation for Women Legislators, Inc., ATTN: NFWL-NRA Bill of Rights Essay Contest, 910 16th Street NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC 20006

Website: http://www.womenlegislators.org
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