Paul Simon Democracy Prize

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SIU Paul Simon Democracy Prize


The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is pleased to announce the Paul Simon Democracy Prize.

Three prizes of $5,000 will be awarded to current Illinois college or university students for the design and implementation of projects to revitalize democracy in their communities.

We are accepting 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.

The three winning videos will be posted on the Institute’s website and YouTube channel. Prize recipients will be invited to a celebratory reception at the Institute in the Fall of 2023 and asked to describe how their proposals are being implemented. Group submissions are accepted.


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

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 March 1, 2023
  • Video proposal deadline: April 1, 2023
  • Winners announced on May 1, 2023