'If I Were Mayor...' Essay Contests and State League Scholarship Programs

Most of these contests ask middle school students (often sixth graders) to write a short essay of 250 words, with essays judged by league staff or a panel of municipal officials.  Contest winners are often presented with an award at the league's annual convention and winning essays are published in league journals or newsletters.


With support from COLOTRUST, the Colorado Municipal League (CML) sponsors an "If I Were Mayor..." essay contest, open to seventh and eighth grade students except for those related to Colorado municipal officials and employees.  Winers receive certificate of achievement, a savings bond, and an invitation to participate in CML's annual conference.


The Georgia Municipal Association's contest offers 12 statewide winners a $250 savings bond and other prizes.  Information is mailed to city halls and schools in December and essay entries are due in March.  The contest is open to sixth graders, and winners are recognized along with their parents and teachers at an annual awards luncheon.  For more information, contact Amy Henderson at ahenderson@gmanet.com.


The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT) has sponsored an annual "If I were Mayor, I would..." essay contest for more than 10 years, with nearly 3,000 sixth grade students entering the contest annually.  The league offers cities and schools contest materials and encourages local officials to partner with schools in this effort.  Regional winners receive a $250 savings bond and the Grand Prize winner receives a $1,000 savings bond; all of them are recognized at the IACT annual conference. The IACT website includes an essay contest entry form, a sample local government curriculum, an information sheet on sponsoring a local essay contest, a letter to school principals, and a contest guide for city officials.


The League of Kansas Municipalities provides essay contest winners from six geographic regions with a $250 savings bond and recognizes them at an awards ceremony at the State House that coincides with City Hall Day, an annual event designed to increase the visibility of local government issues.  The contest is open to all seventh graders.


Since 2001, the Maryland Municipal League (MML) and Maryland Mayors' Association have sponsored an essay contest for fourth graders.  "This contest is a fun, yet important way to bring together students from all over Maryland to not only share their creative ideas as mayor, but also help them learn more about the importance of municipalities and inspire them to become our next generation of local leadership," said MML Executive Director Scott A. Hancock.


The Massachusetts Municipal Association sponsors an essay contest that draws nearly 2,400 participants annually.  Past winners have received awards and an autographed World Series scorecard from Boston Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy. Judges have included a town selectman, assistant town manager, city councilor, and Boston's deputy director for intergovernmental affairs.


The Michigan Municipal League (MML) Foundation supports several scholarship programs.  The George D. Goodman Public Service Scholarship Fund encourages young people to pursue careers in public services. Assistance is made to high school and college students to attend national and Michigan local government conventions and seminars; pursue goals that enhance local government; or pursue a public policy or public administration degree.  Since the establishment of the scholarship fund in 2005, funds have been used for student registrations at the league's Annual Capital Conference, formerly Legislative Conference held in Lansing, Mich. 

In 2011, the League Foundation implemented an essay competition for students.  The essay contest is open to all Michigan students ages 15-19 interested in local government and public service.  Students were asked to write a minimum of 150 words on a relevant topic to the League's mission and goals. The winning students receive complimentary conference registration to attend general and concurrent sessions, lunch, and the expo hall.

The Dennis Archer Fund provides an opportunity for youth to attend NLC's annual Congress of Cities and participate in youth delegate workshops with public officials from across the country.  Scholarships are given to winners of the MML Foundation essay contest for high school students ages 15-18.  The essay topic is "If you were an elected official (i.e. councilmember/mayor/village president) how would you improve the quality of life in your community?"


Every year, the Mississippi Municipal League competitively selects two high school seniors who plan to attend an accredited college in Mississippi to receive a $2,000 scholarship each.  A General Scholarship is open to all high school seniors, and a Limited Scholarship is given to children or grandchildren of employees or elected officials of Mississippi municipalities, or to high school seniors who work part time for an MML member city. 

Applicants must write an essay of up to 2,000 words on "Why I Should Consider a Career in Municipal Government," and are required to submit their grade point average, and school and community activities.  A panel selected by the league judges the essays.  The winners and their parents are recognized at MML's June annual conference, and the essays are published in Mississippi Municipalities. To learn more, contact June Dunlap at june1@mmlonline.com.


The Nevada League of Cities Youth Award Program recognizes public/community service and encourages Nevada's young people to become involved in civic activities that benefit communities and/or persons who reside within the community.

New Hampshire

Through its John B. Andrews Scholarship Fund, which is funded by the league's annual Fall Classic Golf Tournament and independent donations, the New Hampshire Local Government Center (LGC) selects ten high school seniors to receive $750 scholarships each year.  Recipients must be children of New Hampshire municipal, school, county and village district employees and officials of any unit of local government that is a New Hampshire Municipal Association member or participant in LGC services.

In addition to the essay, applicants are judged based on academic achievement and participation in extracurricular and community service activities.  Since the program started in 2005, LGC has provided high school seniors with college scholarship awards totaling more than $32,000.  Excerpts of winning essays are featured in New Hampshire Town and City. 

New Jersey

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities' Louis Bay 2nd Future Municipal Leaders Scholarship Competition helps high school juniors and seniors continue their education after high school. The purpose of this scholarship is to advance the virtues of elected and volunteer positions in municipal government while raising awareness of municipal government in general.

North Dakota

The North Dakota League of Cities holds an annual "If I Were Mayor for a Day" essay contest for third graders. In recent years, nearly 700 students in 35 cities have participated in the contest.


The Mayors Council of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Municipal League (OML) co-sponsor a statewide annual essay contest for eighth graders.  The OML website also contains information on forms of government and other resources for youth contest participants. 


The Oregon Mayors' Association (OMA) recently launched its annual contest, in which mayors in each member city are encouraged to host their own local contests.  The competition includes a poster contest for middle school students, an essay contest for high school students, and a two-minute or less video or PowerPoint presentation for high school and college students.  Winners of city awards are entered into the OMA statewide contest and all city and statewide winners receive prizes at the OMA summer conference.  In recent years, the grand prize winner has won a laptop computer.  To learn more, contact JoAnn Ghelfi at jghelfi@orcities.org.


The Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities and Verizon co-sponsor an annual Statewide High School Senior Essay Scholarship contest, in which the first and second place winners receive $2,000 and $1,000 scholarships, respectively.  The awards are deposited to the financial aid office of awardees' colleges. 


The Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT) hosts an annual "Why I Like My Community" essay contest that is open to fourth grade and seventh grade students. The contest is designed to enhance the social studies curriculum for these grades.  Winners and their schools receive cash prizes and are invited to read their essays at ULCT's fall conference. Winners have also had their photographs taken with the governor.  Only one entry per class is accepted.


The Association of Washington Cities Center for Quality Communities Scholarship supports students who are actively involved in their communities, schools and/or city government and want to pursue postsecondary education.  Four $1,000 scholarships are awarded to graduating Washington high school students who plan to pursue a postsecondary degree.

West Virginia

The West Virginia Municipal League's "If I Were Mayor, I Would..." essay contest is open to seventh graders throughout the state.  Winners receive a $250 savings bond.