Paul Simon Democracy Prize

Main Content

SIU Paul Simon Democracy Prize


The Paul Simon Democracy Prize is awarded yearly to three recipients. Durring open applications, three prizes of $5,000 are awarded to current Illinois college or university students for the design and implementation of projects to revitalize democracy in their communities.

We accept proposals that are persuasive, imaginative, optimistic, and can plausibly be implemented within six months. Videos should be between 3 and 5 minutes and will be assessed on the quality of the proposal, not the video itself. However, creative and persuasive, and well-produced videos are encouraged.

Winning videos are posted on the Institute’s website and YouTube channel. Prize recipients are be invited to a celebratory reception at the Institute in the upcoming fall and asked to describe how their proposals are being implemented. Group submissions are accepted.

For addiontal information, please email


  • Current Illinois college or university student
  • Design and implement a project to revitalize democracy
  • Submission of video proposal between 3 - 5 minutes and proposal outline

Video proposal examples can include hosting public discussions or debates, registering voters, funding school newspapers to cover local issues, creating a speaker series on community matters, developing a program to recruit and train poll watchers--or coming up with an entirely new idea to expand and revitalize democracy.

Application Process

  • Application opens April 1, 2024
  • Video proposal deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Winners announced on May 15, 2024