Skip to main content
McMaster University Menu Search

Ryan and Leanne Clarke Prizes in Advocacy and Active Citizenship

Clarke Prizes in Advocacy rewards distinguished advocacy demonstrated by Social Sciences students who are advocating, or wish to advocate for, some type of meaningful social and/or political change.

What are The Clarke Prizes in Advocacy?

The prizes were established in 2014 by Ryan Clarke (Class of ’88) and his wife Leanne to:

  • reward distinguished advocacy demonstrated by students who are advocating or wish to advocate for some type of meaningful social and/or political change;
  • enable the Faculty of Social Sciences to offer an exceptional opportunity for its students who have an interest in the area of advocacy;
  • provide financial assistance to the winning recipient(s);
  • provide participants with an unforgettable and valuable learning experience outside the classroom;
  • empower students to partake in advocacy while strengthening important professional and life skills; and
  • highlight real issues and work towards bringing about real change in the community.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy has been defined as the action of speaking up, drawing attention to an important issue and directing decision makers towards a solution.

What types of activities are eligible?

Students can explore any topic related to advocacy and active citizenship. Topics might include poverty alleviation, housing, policy change, women’s issues, student fees, indigenous issues, access to education, environment, housing, etc.

Students are encouraged to be creative and use this as an opportunity to do one or more of the following. This list is not exhaustive:

  • Expand upon advocacy or citizenship work you started in a course
  • Explore a topic you are passionate about
  • Create awareness for change related to an organization you may be volunteering with
  • Explore a topic related to a future career of interest

What do the prize recipients earn?

Financial prizes are awarded to the first, second and third place winners - first place $3000; second place $2000; and third place $1000.

Financial prizes and professional feedback

What do the prize recipients earn?

Financial prizes are awarded to the first, second and third place winners - first place $3000; second place $2000; and third place $1000.

All prize recipients will also receive professional feedback from Ryan Clarke of Advocacy Solutions, about their advocacy campaign. Mr. Clarke graduated from McMaster University with a BA and MA in Political Science, and an LLB from Western University. After practicing as a lawyer he started his own business providing advocacy services for organizations, businesses and individuals. He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share with students and a passion for the role of the Social Sciences in advocacy work.

Additionally, prize recipients will receive one-on-one support from the Office of Experiential Education (EE) about how to incorporate this experience and prize effectively into their resume and LinkedIn profile.

What are the important dates to remember?

Tuesday, January 17, 11:30am - 12:30pm  – General information session with EE staff

Tuesday, January 24, 7pm - 7:50pm –Advocacy talk with Ryan Clarke

Wednesday, March 8, by 4pm – Submit intent to participate

April (TBA) – Poster Session

*Confirmed dates will be updated on the EE website and promoted via social media once confirmed.

Who is eligible to apply?

Clarke Prizes in Advocacy are open to undergraduate students registered in a degree program in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Students may apply as individuals or as a group.

What is the application procedure?

General Information Session -  Tuesday, January 17, 11:30am - 12:30pm

Students are invited to attend this general information session where they will learn more information about the Clarke Prize, the application process, and tips and tricks when applying.

Advocacy Information Session with Ryan Clarke - Tuesday, January 24, 7pm - 7:50pm

Interested students are asked to attend an information session presented by Ryan Clarke. The session will outline key aspects of effective advocacy to assist in the development of individual or group campaigns. Students do not have to have an idea confirmed by the information session. The session may assist with encouraging ideas to explore. This session is strongly recommended for anyone considering applying. There will be plenty of time for questions.

Submit Intent to Participate - Wednesday, March 8, by 4pm

Students must submit an intent to participate by the deadline in order to be considered further and participate in the poster session.

Poster Session - April - Date TBA

Students who registered to participate will attend the poster session, where the judges will circulate to each candidate and evaluate their advocacy campaign.

What is the poster format?

Submissions may be in traditional poster format or electronically as a PowerPoint, Prezi, ePortfolio or other approved format. All students are asked to also provide the presentation in printed format for judges. 3

What is the review process?

Submissions will be judged by a committee organized by the Office of Experiential Education. The judges will include one community representative, one faculty member from the Faculty of Social Sciences, and one staff member from the Office of Experiential Education.

How are applications evaluated?

At the showcase, a panel of judges will evaluate the poster/electronic presentation content and ask students a series of questions to identify the winners. The judges will rank submissions based on the following criteria:

  1. A clear and well-focused description of the problem/issue your advocacy campaign is intended to address
  2. A clear explanation of the goals of your advocacy campaign
  3. A clear explanation of how the campaign will impact society
  4. A clear explanation of the steps that will take you to your goals including assessing the feasibility of these steps
  5. A clear explanation of how winning one of the Clarke Prizes will help you to better reach those goals
  6. Demonstration of depth of knowledge and expertise on your subject

Judges will have a short time (approximately 5-7 minutes) to assess your submission. Be sure to prepare a presentation that can be presented in that timeframe.

How are winners notified?

Winners will be notified at the conclusion of the poster session.

Where can I find more information?

Students are encouraged to attend one of the general information sessions in November 2016 or January 2017, as well as the advocacy information session featuring Ryan Clarke in January. These sessions will provide information about tips for putting together a successful submission as well as advocacy-specific information to help develop and strengthen your campaign.


Questions can be directed to:

Ruthanne Talbot
Programming and Outreach Manager
Office of Experiential Education, Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 905-525-9140, ext. 23382
Location: Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH) room 102