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Ryan and Leanne Clarke Prizes in Advocacy and Active Citizenship

Intent to participate closed

The final date to submit an intent to participate has now past

We look forward to seeing everyone at the competition on April 27

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, etc.

Students at all stages of their campaigns are encouraged to participate. This can be an idea for a future campaign or for a campaign already in progress.

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

Financial prizes and professional feedback

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 1 - Friday, March 31 at 4pm – Submit intent to participate

Thursday, April 27, 10am-1pm – Poster Showcase and judging in LRW 1055


Submissions for Intent to Participate Now Closed

Intent to participate was due between March 1 and March 31.

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

This session is strongly recommended for anyone considering applying. 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.  There will be plenty of time for questions.

Submit Intent to Participate - Now Closed

Students must submit an intent to participate by the deadline in order to participate in the poster showcase. The deadline to submit an intent to participate has now past.

Poster Showcase - April 27, 10am-1pm in LRW 1055

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

Who is eligible to apply?

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

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.

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.

Resources for Students

Resources for Students

Download full details about the Clarke Prize in Advocacy Active Citizenship for more information about eligibility, funding and judging.

Download Quick Tips on Effective Advocacy to help develop and focus your proposed campaign idea.

  • Develop key messages
  • Tell your story
  • Make the ask
  • Move others to action


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 may be directed to: