Write For Democracy Presents
A Video Contest For New Americans
At a time when U.S. immigrants face unprecedented challenges, we need the voices and visions of a new generation of artists and activists to power us into the future. That’s why Write for Democracy is offering $1,000 in cash prizes as well as free workshops and mentorships for English Language Learner high school, college and adult education students who submit a video answering the question, “Why Vote?” The contest is open to all U.S. residents who learned or are learning English as a second language—citizens or non-citizens, documented or undocumented.
We chose “Why Vote?” because in a democracy, voting is the most powerful tool for defending your rights and helping your community get the services and respect it deserves. Immigrants make up 10% of the American population that is eligible to vote, yet they exercise this right at far lower rates than native-born Americans. Even if you yourself can’t vote because of age or citizenship status, you have the power to use your creativity, your passion, and your bilingual skills to encourage citizens in your community to exercise their right to vote.
The rules are simple: submit a short video explaining why it’s important to vote, and you’ll be eligible for one of two $300 first prizes and eight $50 runner-up prizes. You have complete creative freedom, and if you want help before you make your video, you’ll have the chance to attend free workshops on script writing, visual storytelling, and video editing through the New Voices, New Votes program.
What kind of video should I make?
It’s up to you! You can tell your own story. You can tell the story of a friend or a family member. You can interview people in your neighborhood. You can use music or animation. You can make a documentary or a fictional narrative using actors. Your answer to the question “Why vote?” can be a poem or song, and you can build your video around it. Whatever approach you take, your video should express your ideas from an immigrant’s point of view.
How long should my video be?
Your video should be a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 3 minutes. Winners will be chosen based upon the quality, power and effectiveness of the videos they make, within those time limits.
What language should I use in the video?
Your video can be in English and/or your first language. If you use your first language, you need to include English subtitles.
Can I submit more than one video?
Yes! You can submit up to 5 videos for this contest.
Can groups submit videos?
Yes! You can make and submit a video as a group.
Do I need to be a filmmaker, artist or activist to participate?
You do not need to be a filmmaker, artist or activist to participate. You only need to be concerned about democracy and human rights in the United States of America! For those of you interested in activism and leadership, we’ll provide opportunities to get involved in efforts to register new voters and defend immigrant rights.
When will this contest happen?
We will be accepting video submissions from September 20 to October 20. The winners will be announced on November 1.
Are there any restrictions?
Write for Democracy is a non-partisan organization. Our goal is to encourage all people to participate in the political process, not to tell them how to vote. We cannot accept submissions that support or oppose a particular political party or candidate.
How can I enter the contest?
To enter the contest you must fill out the submission form and submit your video. You will find instructions on how to submit your video on the submission form.
Where Can I find resources to help me make my video?
Helpful resources for making a video with your phone are located on our Mobile Videography Resources page. Just tap on the Resources button below.