Project Guidelines

“[SUSO has] helped me to become more aware of what is happening that I can change. I learned that I like to make a difference, especially
in things that influence the people around me.” --Past SUSO Student Participant 

Speak Up! Speak Out! projects focus on a problem impacting the local community. By allowing students to select problems that have a direct impact on their lives, we emphasize the importance of being engaged at the local level.

Each team's final project must include two short speeches, which they will video record and submit to semifinals for the chance to present at the State Civics Fair. At the State Civics Fair, students present to a panel of judges, parents, and the community. Speeches provide information about the team's problem and proposed solution.

To see more examples from the State Civics Fair, past and current team projects, check out our Facebook.

Project Guidelines

When choosing a problem, teams should:

  • Research the problem extensively and be prepared to tell judges how information was obtained,  infromation sources, and the depth of the research.
  • Define the problem clearly. Homelessness is a problem, but it can be framed as a problem due to lack of jobs, lack of low income housing, lack of mental health care, or even a lack of drug treatment facilities. Be prepared to clearly frame the problem to create a more specific solution.
  • Be prepared to state why this problem outweighs other concerns in the community. Why does this problem deserve special attention?
  • Know all sides of the issue. Do not limit research to those who agree, but also research those who disagree in order to create well-grounded arguments.

In preparation for the Speeches, students should remember that:

  • Each team will present a four minute informative speech about the focal problem, as well as a four minute persuasive speech presenting the proposed solution.
  • Time counts! Judges will strictly adhere to the time guidelines.
  • The presentation is an important part of the Speak Out! session, so practice the speeches.
  • Judges may question the ideas presented. Be prepared to back up assertions with evidence from research. Practice answering possible judges' questions.