Rules and Regulations

The Bill of Rights Institute’s Being an American Essay Contest Official Rules and Regulations 
Effective September 17, 2011

Section I – General Rules  

From Saturday, September 17, 2011 through Thursday, December 15, 2011 (the “Contest Period”), the Bill of Rights Institute will conduct an essay contest in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia; the U.S. Territories; and American Armed Forces Schools Abroad, (focusing on how the Constitution establishes and maintains a culture of liberty (the “Contest”). To enter, teachers of eligible students (see Section II for eligibility requirements) must log on to the website and submit an essay that follows the Essay Guidelines as detailed in Section III. No essays that are mailed-in will be accepted or considered. As further detailed in Section VII, entrants agree to accept and be bound by all terms of these Official Rules and Regulations and to accept and be bound by the decisions of the Bill of Rights Institute, whose decisions are final with respect to all matters of the Contest.

Only one entry per student is permitted. Entries that address a topic other than the Contest Question, are incomplete, are submitted late, do not highlight a specified Founding principles, do not examine the Constitution, or otherwise do not comply with these Official Rules and Regulations will not be accepted. By entering the Essay Contest, entrants and sponsoring teachers agree that the Bill of Rights Institute will own and administer 100% of the copyright in all essays submitted, with the perpetual right to use such essays and that said essays are solely the work of the entrant for whom they are submitting an essay. The Bill of Rights Institute may edit for grammar, modify for style only, and distribute the submitted essays with no additional notification or permission of the entrant. Essays will only be used to further the educational mission and goals of the Bill of Rights Institute (please see Section VI for a Privacy Statement).

Section II – Eligibility

The Contest is open to all United States citizens or legal residents who are students (1) in Grades 9-12 attending public, private, religious, and charter schools but who are no older than 19 no younger than 13 as of the end of the Contest Period (December 15, 2011), (2) enrolled in a GED or correspondence school program but who are no older than 19 no younger than 13 as of the end of the Contest Period, or (3) attending a homeschool program who are no younger than 13 as of the beginning of the contest period and no older than 19 as of the end of the Contest Period.

Students must attend school in one of the following states, territories, or district, regardless of their state of residence: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, all U.S. Territories, and American Armed Forces Schools Abroad.

Section III – Essay Guidelines

Each essay must adhere to the topic and should fully answer the question:

How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?
In an essay of no more than 1000 words, analyze and discuss:
• How one of the Founding principles established in the Constitution helps preserve liberty
• Why at least one Founder, as evidenced in a primary source document, believed your chosen principle was a safeguard to liberty
• Why your principle continues to be important today
• How you personally help preserve a culture that insures the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in America

When choosing a Founding principle to write about in their essays, students must select one of principles from the “Founding Principles” list. Essays may be no longer than 1,000 words, and must be submitted by 11:59 pm PST on December 15, 2011. Only online submissions will be accepted for the Contest. Teachers may sponsor as many essays as they would like. Students may submit their own essay without a teacher. Only one essay per student will be accepted.

Section IV – Judging and Timing

After the Contest Period, the judges selected by the Bill of Rights Institute will review and select finalist essays from all the eligible entries received. The judges will then select the prize-winning essays in each contest region. Entries will be evaluated based upon the following criteria: adherence to the Essay Guidelines (as stated in Section III), originality, organization, writing style, and depth of analysis. Judging will be completed on or around February 15, 2011. Winners will be announced on the Contest website in February.

The Bill of Rights Institute reserves the right in their sole administration of the Contest to disqualify any individual they find or believe to: (i) be tampering with the entry process or the administration of the Contest, (ii) be acting in violation of these Official Rules and Regulations, or (iii) plagiarizing content in any form.

The selection of the judges is within the sole and absolute discretion of the Bill of Rights Institute. The judges who are selected by the Bill of Rights Institute will not have a direct connection to the student who has written the essay or be in a position to affect the objectivity and impartiality of any judge with respect to a submitted essay.

Section V – Awards

Winners will be announced on the Contest website in February. Winners must provide publicity photos and information as well as Social Security numbers in order to receive prize money. Social Security numbers are requested from winners for tax purposes only. The Bill of Rights Institute does not sell, nor use student Social Security numbers for any reason other than the required reporting for Federal tax purposes. Winners will receive the following prizes based upon the judges’ evaluations as outlined in Section IV.

Cash prizes for Students in each of the five regions of the 2011-2012 Being an American Essay Contest

  • First place - $1,000
  • Second place - $500
  • Third place - $250

Cash prizes for Teacher Sponsors in each of the five regions of the 2011-2012 Being an American Essay Contest
Teachers who sponsor a student with a winning essay will receive $100 for each student that places in his/her region.

Prizes will be awarded within three (3) months of the close of the Contest. Prizes not claimed within 180 days of the check date or the end of the Contest will be void. The Bill of Rights Institute will make its best effort to mail the prize to the winner and is not responsible for incorrect address provided by the contestant. All entrants are solely responsible for understanding and complying with any and all federal, state, and local laws, codes, regulations, and ordinances that may apply to the entrants and the activities or business in which such entrants may engage. There may be tax consequences associated with the prizes and income received by a Contest winner, which may include, without limitation, an obligation to report as income and to pay taxes on such income to federal, state, or local authorities. Each Contest winner is responsible to determine the tax consequences of the income received and to comply with all applicable laws in all respects.

Section VI – Privacy Statement

Upon submission of an essay, the essay becomes the property of the Bill of Rights Institute. By entering the Contest, entrants and their submitting teachers grant the Bill of Rights Institute the right, unless prohibited by law, to use their names, cities and states of residence, pictures, and likenesses without compensation, for the express purpose of advertising and publicity of the Contest in any and all media, now or after. Entrants also grant the Bill of Rights Institute permission to use their name and essay to further its educational mission. The Privacy Policy of the Bill of Rights Institute also applies to this Contest.

Section VII – Availability Disclaimer

The administration of the Contest, including, without limitation, determining the eligibility of a student or essay, selecting of a judge, evaluating any submitted essay, and awarding of the prizes, is within the sole and absolute discretion of the Bill of Rights Institute. No student or teacher, or person or organization related thereto, has a right to appeal, contest, dispute, or otherwise challenge any aspect of the administration of the Contest, and any decision of the Bill of Rights Institute is final in all respects.

No responsibility is assumed for incorrect or inaccurate entry information whether caused by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized by this contest or by any human error which may occur in the processing of entries into this Contest. The Bill of Rights Institute is not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, or delayed entries or any problems or technical malfunctions of any telephone network or lines, computer on-line systems, servers or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of players on account of technical problems, or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website or combination thereof.

If, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Bill of Rights Institute, which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this contest or for any reason the Bill of Rights Institute deems it necessary, the Bill of Rights Institute reserves the right to cancel, modify, or delay the Contest.

Section VIII – Nondiscrimination Policy

In administering the Contest, the Bill of Rights Institute will not discriminate in any manner, including on the basis of race, color, national, or ethnic origin, and each eligible essay submitted will be evaluated upon the merit of its contents as further described in Section IV.