Frequently Asked Questions

Please read through our answers to frequently asked questions below before contacting us. If you couldn’t find the answer you were looking  for on this page, send us an email with your questions and we’ll respond as soon as possible.

1. What is Engage 2012?
The Engage in Democracy 2012 Student Journalism Challenge, or Engage 2012 for short, is a video competition for K-12 students living in the United States and its territories geared around the election. Students are tasked with creating video stories up to 2 minutes in length about issues in their communities relating to one of these six big election topics:

1. Voter Turnout
2. Jobs/The Economy
3. Energy/The Environment
4. Health Care
5. Education Reform
6. Immigration

Participants can make their entries with handheld video cameras, smart phones, and whatever other equipment and software they own or have permission to use. Students are encouraged to investigate issues in their communities, within the boundaries of the law. Once they finish creating their videos, students can upload their entries to YouTube and fill out our online submission form here.

Specific details about the challenge can be found on our Rules & Eligibility page.

2. Why was Engage 2012 created?
The competition’s organizers noticed there was a great deal of apathy surrounding the 2012 presidential election. At the same time, they also believed that by educating youth through journalistic learning, children and adolescents would develop a sense of civic responsibility. Engage 2012 was created as a way to inspire both youth and adults to participate in the democratic process by empowering youth through journalism education, classroom leadership development, and community reporting.

3. What is the purpose of the challenge?
Engage 2012 has several project goals:

+ Include K-12 students in the political process by creating a platform for them to openly tell stories from their communities.
+ Develop students’ technical and non-fiction storytelling skills in a hands-on learning environment.
+ Encourage curiosity, exploration, and creativity in our nation’s youth.
+ Inspire adults to become politically active through sharing the unique perspectives of young people throughout the country.
+ Assist educators in building a curriculum that teaches students about journalism and the democratic process through participatory learning.
+ Empower young people everywhere to make positive changes on a community and societal level.

4. Who runs Engage 2012?
The project is run by staff , student leaders, and educators from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, the Media Arts Institute, Baruch College of the City University of New York, and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

5. I am a college student. Can I participate in the challenge?
The challenge is only open to K-12 students living in the United States and its territories, but there are are several other ways that you as a college student can get involved:

+Make appointments with school administrators at K-12 learning institutions to give presentations about the challenge to classrooms and auditoriums. If possible, demonstrate to students how to record video and audio using their smartphones or other camera equipment. We provide a step-by-step guide on how to do this on our College Mentors page.
+If your school has an equipment check-out program for camera or recording equipment, ask your school if they would be willing to donate equipment to a school or classroom in need through our Equipment Donations Forum.
+Share the challenge online through social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.
+Ask community organizers who run after-school youth educational programs if you can give a short presentation about the challenge to their members or participants.

6. What if I’m 18 or over but am still a K-12 student? Can I still participate?

Yes. Any K-12 student can participate in the challenge, regardless of age. If you are 18 years of age or older, you will not need to obtain a signed parental release form to participate in the challenge or our Student Ambassador Program.

7. Do I have to participate through a school or community education program? Can I just submit a video on my own?

You can definitely submit a video on your own. You do not need your teacher or educator’s permission to take the challenge and create your entry, nor do you have to participate through a school or after school program. However, if you are under the age of 18, you will need to obtain a signed release form from a parent or legal guardian to participate. You can download a parental release form here.

8. I am a K-12 educator and want my students or school to participate in the challenge. What can I do to get more students and educators involved?
That’s great! We’re so happy you want your students to participate. Here are 10 things you can do to increase student involvement in your school or community.

9. I am a K-12 student who wants students from my school or community to participate in the challenge. What can I do?
We’re glad you asked! We recommend becoming a Student Ambassador. As a Student Ambassador, you can spread the word about the challenge in your community to increase student participation. The two top performing ambassadors from each region will receive a prize worth up to $500 in value. Regardless of whether or not you decide to become an ambassador, here are 10 things you can do as a student to increase student involvement in your school or community.

10. I was born in another country but am currently going to school here in the United States. Can I still participate?
Yes. Any student living in the United States or its territories who is entering Kindergarten through 12th grade upon fall of 2012 can participate, regardless of where they were born.

11. I was born in the United States but am living overseas. I am enrolled in a K-12 educational program at my current location. Can I still participate?
Unfortunately, you are not eligible to participate in the challenge at this time. The challenge is only open to K-12 students living in the United States and its territories upon entering school in fall of 2012. Excpetions to this rule include K-12 students who are children of U.S. military personell who are living overseas.

12. I don’t own a handheld or stationary video recorder. Can I record my entry using my smartphone?
Yes! You do not need expensive equipment to participate in Engage 2012. Participants are allowed to make their entries with smartphones, handheld video cameras,  and whatever other equipment, devices, and software they own or have been given permission to use. You can also find several free video editing resources on our Helpful Resources Page.

Educators looking for camera or recording equipment can visit our Equipment Donations Forum to make a request.