Sunday, November 29, 2009
The importance of transparency and credibility in award applications
We hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving. This post addresses several concerns and questions raised by the followers about the awards. Let me start this by informing you that I am no expert in this field. However, I would like to share my opinion as we have applied and won a couple of international and national team and individual awards last year. Our team is relatively small compared to a team of 8-10 members. I will try and address all of your concerns by saying one vital point. The accuracy of the information in the application is very, very important. If one stretches the truth, the whole credibility of the project will be at stake.I can't stress this enough.
1. We do have a big panel/advisory committee consisting of very educated adults which include teachers, scientists, and NPO directors, both from India and USA. We welcome their constructive criticism. In my opinion, having adult mentors like your school teachers is very vital for getting objective advice.
2.In our case, the adult mentors have pointed us in the direction of award. They have nominated us for individual awards as well.
3. An application for a team award should be very simple. Many of the team awards allow 8-10 kids to be a part of the team. I strongly feel that the whole team should pool in their individual efforts to make a strong application. Having said that, there is a catch. Some of the team applications have individual pages, where every team member must write about his/her personal contribution/individual role in the project. Every team member has to be very honest and write accurately . If the team is bigger, maybe the team can consult an adult mentor to check the credibility of the individual pages. The awards committee will not care who has done what, they look at the overall accomplishment as a team. On the individual page, one needs to write a first person story rather than saying WE. You have to stick to what you have done.
4. If 2-3 people have done a task together, then it it best to write their names along with yours instead of being ambiguous and writing we.
5. Applying to individual awards is rather simple. Most of the top awards need a nomination. One of the teachers or adult mentors usually nominate the students. In my opinion,it is also okay to approach a teacher asking for a nomination if you think you have a strong case.
6. More than one person from the same team can apply for the individual award. Anyone can apply for the individual award. You don't need permission from the team but in my opinion, it is a good idea to inform the other teammates that you are planning to apply for the award. Here the accuracy is vital. I can't stress this enough. Individual awards will be based on what that particular person has done. You can't write what the team has done. That would be wrong. If an individual stretches the truth, the whole credibility of the project will be at stake. To give you an example, I was nominated for Brower Youth Awards 2009. Though I am the leader, I can't claim that we raised $15,000 in two year. The word we is very ambiguous. what I have to write is the team raised $15,000. Supposing I have raised $5000 under my leadership, I have to be very specific, and write something like under my leadership the team raised $5000 of the total 15,000.
7. Trust me, if your application is considered for the award, the committee will check the credibility of the application from several sources. There will be interviews, required references, etc. to back up your claim.
8. The number of years worked is very important. There will be eligibility rules. You will have to have spent a minimum amount of time before you apply. In most cases you need at least one year of service, unless you have done an extraordinary accomplishment, then I am sure you can make an exception. However, for team awards, you can be a new member, and if the other team mates agree, then you can be a part of the team.
9. The important thing is, you need to be able to defend your position on the project. One of you have asked me that you have raised $4000 or so, with no title. I don't think that you need to worry. In your individual application/page you specify that you have raised $4000 out of total $5000. I think you may need a mentor intervention if the treasurer or the financial director in charge who has spent 14 months on the project also claims that he/she has raised $5000 under his/her leadership.
10. About co-nominations for individual awards, My sister Apoorva and I are cofounders and we did not apply for any individual awards. We were nominated. I think this was possible because we were siblings living under the same roof. But I may be wrong. It might be a good idea to approach the Awards Committee before making the application ready.
11. On a final note, in my opinion, having adult advisers is the key step to the problem solving. They will be more objective and impartial. One thing to remember is, the committee checks the credibility of the application. As long as you stick to the truth, whether it is a team or individual award, you have nothing to worry about.
I hope this helps. Good luck to all of you for the upcoming awards/contests.