VOICE OF DEMOCRACY

THEME: "What makes America Great”

SPONSORSHIP: Posts and Auxiliaries should work together on the program, but this program is the responsibility of the Post. As has been the case for many years, more than one (1) Post may conduct the Voice of Democracy Scholarship Program at a single school; however, each student will be allowed to choose the Post that will sponsor that student. The Auxiliary to a Post may conduct the program if the Post does not. The entry forms are available at www.vfw.org or from the chairman.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE and REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Post Chairmen:
Submissions to the Post/Auxiliary are due NO LATER THAN October 31, 2019. Get your Post’s winning entry to your District chairman as soon as possible, but not later than  November 15, 2019. Be sure you and your Auxiliary chair have signed the entry form in the space provided, and you have provided all Post information requested on the entry form. You do not need a photo of your winner. If your student wins the District competition, then the District Chairman will need a photo, so be prepared. Complete and submit Post report based on District guidelines.

District Chairmen:
1.You must submit your Address, phone number and e-mail to the Department Chairman and to Department HQ no later than July 1, 2019.

2.Ensure your District submits its VOD donation to Department HQ no later than November 30, 2019.

3.District winner’s package (along with the  district report) must  be to  the  State Chairman by December  6, 2019. The package includes the completed student entry form (both sides) properly signed, a typed copy of the winner’s essay and the recording of the essay, and a photograph of your District winner. Please send a "clear, close-up shot of "head and shoulders”. This is required for all District Winners. Please contact your winner inform him/her if selected as  the  state winner, he/she will be expected to attend the Voice of Democracy National Finals in Washington, D.C. The trip will be paid for by the VFW for the student. If the State winner cannot attend the National Finals he/she is not eligible for National Awards.
 
4.Send the completed "District Voice of Democracy Report Form” and the "District Voice of Democracy Participation Report Summary” (with the district report of posts participating in the program) to the State Chairman not later than January 3, 2020. These Report Forms have been distributed to your District Commander and the District Voice of Democracy Chairman. They are also available on the Department website and from the State Chairman. Posts and Districts not submitting reports  will not receive credit for program participation.

5.All related Voice of Democracy activities, such as award presentations (other than the student entry form) should be reported on-line via the Department website.

AWARDS.  Monetary awards at the Post and District level are subject to the approval of the Post or District membership. As for Department, the following is the monetary award:

1.The first place winner at the state competition will receive a check for $2,000.00.
2.Each of the four other finalists will receive a check for $1,000.00.
3.The remaining District winners will each receive a check for $500.00.

In addition to the cash award, the State winner will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. February 29 – March 4, 2020, to compete for the National First Place Award of a $30,000 scholarship. The state winner will also be invited to attend "Freedom’s Foundation” trip to Valley Forge in June 2019.

DEPARTMENT DEADLINES FOR 2019-2020:

Identify District Chairperson to VOD Chair
And Department HQJuly 1, 2019

Student Entry to the PostOctober 31, 2019 Post Deadline for Post Winner to District ChairmanNovember 15, 2019 District Deadline for District Winner to State ChairmanDecember 6, 2019
Department Chair report posts who participated to
Department HQJanuary 6, 2020

Note 1: District Chairpersons are REQUIRED to submit the District Voice of Democracy Report Form (attached on Page Six here) to the Department Chair along with the winning essay from your District. If the report is not received along with the District submission, the District entry will not be considered and posts will not be given credit on the Post Status Report and will eliminate posts from contention for All-American Status at National
.
 
Note 2: There are no exceptions to the December 6, 2019 deadline. These deadlines differ from the suggested National Released deadlines. This is to facilitate judging of the District Winners before Christmas vacations.

ADVANCING  SCHOOL  WINNERS:     The  following  is  a  quote  from  the  National  Program
Chairmen’s Guide. "It’s About Service.”

"Local Competition Alternatives: In recent years, interviews with teachers and school leaders have indicated that teachers are often reluctant to encourage participation in our scholarship competition if they are required to take class time to have their students all complete entry forms and record their scripts. For this reason, we offer the teachers the following options: Teachers/youth  leaders are  encouraged to simply use  Voice of Democracy as a written patriotic exercise. The teacher/leader has the option of:
1.Submitting all scripts and recordings to the Post for judging. Or:
2.Conducting a judging within the group and advancing one winner for every fifteen
(15) participants.

Which option above is used is ultimately the decision of the Post chairman, working
closely with the teacher, school official or youth group leader.”

What does this mean? If the school takes option 2, then the Post may advance those winners provided by that school in addition to any other essays judged by the Post. To do this, get a list of all students that participated in the school competition on school letterhead. The Post then can take credit for all the students that participated at the school. Remember, 1 student may be selected for every 15 participating, same as at the Post level.

ADVANCING POST WINNERS: Posts may advance one winner for every fifteen (15) entries judged by the Post. The key words here are "judged by the Post.” If you receive the winners from a school competition, as outlined above, they are not "judged by the Post.” They have come to you already judged and should be sent to District for judging. If the Post has 1-15 entries to judge, then send one winner to District. If the Post has 16-30 entries to judge, then send two winners to District. There is NO maximum number of winners advance winners based on the number of essays judged.

JUDGING PROCEDURES: The National VFW Programs Chairmen’s Guide, "It’s about Service”
gives the standards for judging at all levels of competition. The Guide is quoted in part:

"Selection and use of five to nine judges is recommended (minimum of three is suggested) at each level of competition. The best judges should be from outside your Post and represent education, broadcasting, corporate or community leadership. Local military recruiters also make excellent potential judges. They (judges) must not be connected in any way with the students in the competition.”
 
"Select a judging site that avoids distractions. The chairman must be present for the judging and should review all essays/recordings several days before judging to allow students to correct minor discrepancies.”

This quote is only part of the judging guidelines, and it is the responsibility of the chairmen, at all levels, to be thoroughly familiar with the judging criteria from National.

CONTEST AWARDS POSTS:
Students often take part in scholarship programs, such as our program, to help defray the expenses of a college education. Every effort should be taken to make cash awards to your winners. Many Posts and Auxiliaries have an "Awards Night” at their Post or for a schools scholarship night to recognize and honor the students, their parents and teachers. Also consider making awards presentations at the schools the students attend, provided the School Board allows.

DISTRICTS: Districts should also recognize their District winners with cash awards whenever
possible. You just can’t get too much publicity.

Districts are asked to donate $300.00 to the Department of California VOD Fund.

State Recognition. Please note as this change is significant – there will be no VOD Banquet in or any other events in Sacramento this year. It is the plan of the Department leadership to present these awards at a District Meeting, City Council meeting, or at a School assembly – the assembly is preferable if allowed by the local school board.

National Recognition. 1st Place winner will be recognized at the VOD trip to Washington, DC in March 2020 and with a leadership conference in Pennsylvania towards the end of the year which will be announced later in the year.

Credit for All-State. Posts are advised that for the purposes of this program, to be credited the post must submit at least one entry to their respective division for judging. The credit will be awarded upon the report received from the Department Chair.

Reporting Procedures. District Chairpersons are REQUIRED to submit the District Voice of Democracy Report Form (attached on Page Six here) to the Department Chair along with the winning essay from your District. This is MANDATORY. If the report is not received along with the District submission, the District entry will not be considered.

Donations. If a post is unable to work the VOD program, it MAY make a donation to the Department Voice of Democracy Fund in the amount of $150.00 via submission on the Monetary Fund Form located on the Department website, but posts are asked to make every conceivable attempt to work this program before consideration of submission of donation.