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Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award Competition -
Secrets of a Winning Entry

Do you wonder what the judges are looking for when they examine national entries in the Desjardins recognition program? Here's their list of characteristics of a winning league entry:

Compelling. Tell a story. Make your case as if you were writing an article for the trade press. Keep the narrative—your description of your financial education efforts and why they're exemplary—separate from the supporting evidence.

Appropriate. Read the rules, and make sure you're entering the appropriate competition. The Desjardins Financial Education Award for Leagues focuses on providing financial literacy leadership. The judges will give precedence to activities since June 1, 2011.

Relevant. Review the entry form carefully and respond to all applicable judging criteria. There are three mandatory measures (see "How does Desjardins scoring work for league entries?" in the FAQs). The scoring is based on these elements, so the more relevant information you provide, the higher your score. Many times we receive information that is interesting, but not relevant to the application. Clearly demonstrate how the program(s) is used and the impact (i.e., how many people/groups have been taught using the materials).

Focused. For each criterion, it's better to describe—and substantiate in detail—your single best program than to list many smaller activities or events. This allows you to present your best case. The Desjardins Award is not a marketing recognition program. Don't include advertising samples and promotional PowerPoint presentations. They only make it harder for the judges to find what really matters—the educational content and how you delivered it. Follow the format requirements on the league entry form.

Original, Unique and Innovative. There's nothing wrong with using commercially prepared educational materials. If you did, however, be sure to show how you adapted the materials to the needs of your particular member or nonmember audience. Show how you went beyond the prepared materials to engage your audience more deeply. In any case, explain what makes your league's efforts unique and worthy of national recognition. Have you created any new and innovative partnerships? Is this a completely original program? Or is it a twist on something that’s been done for a long time? Emphasize the creativity and uniqueness of your program. While monetary donations are admirable, the judges will look for strong personal involvement.

Proven. What were the goals of your efforts and how did people benefit? Provide concrete, relevant evidence of program effectiveness. What positive results did you measure and can you document them? The judges love to read about results and success stories.

Organized. Make your entry easy to read and easy to follow. Include the name of your league on the front cover. Use a table of contents. Avoid handwritten entries and misspellings. Use standard fonts, white paper, and black type. Keep your entry to a manageable size—bigger is not better! The judges want to get to the "meat" of the program, without having to search for the answers.

Of course, only a limited number of entries can win at the national level. By heeding this advice, you'll improve your chances of receiving recognition for its good works.

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