The Pulitzer Center congratulates the 2021 Local Letters for Global Change contest winners and finalists!
The 18 young leaders whose writing and bios appear below were selected from among over 925 entrants in 22 U.S. states, eight countries, and the District of Columbia. These young people have demonstrated passion for global issues, made meaningful connections between their own communities and the wider world, and offered compelling solutions for some of today's most pressing problems.
In fall 2021, we asked K–12 students to make their voices heard by writing a letter to a local representative about a global issue they want to see addressed, using Pulitzer Center reporting to make their case. Students drew on diverse reporting projects on subjects ranging from deforestation to reproductive rights, from domestic violence to police surveillance.
Thank you to every participating student and teacher who engaged deeply with a global issue and inspired us with your passion and your insight. You can view the letter-writing workshop guide here and stay up to date on education opportunities and resources by signing up for our weekly education newsletter. The next Local Letters for Global Change contest will open in September 2022.
First Place, High School Category (Tied)
Kavita Doobay, 11th grade, TERRA Environmental Research Institute, FL
Letter on the use of AI technology in policing and the criminal legal system
Gabriella May Miller, 11th grade, Chandler High School, AZ
Letter on the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
First Place, Middle School Category
Aidan O'Donnell, 8th grade, Francine Delany New School for Children, NC
Letter on deforestation and climate change
First Place, Elementary School Category (Tied)
Chloe Carrdus, 5th grade, School Without Walls at Francis Stevens, D.C.
Letter on agricultural runoff and water contamination
Gabriel Kromwyk, 5th grade, UCLA Lab School, CA
Letter on salt marshes and climate change
Grace Wright, 11th grade, King Kekaulike High School, HI
Letter on food production and sustainable agriculture
Aishwarya Ganapathy, 7th grade, Mountain Trail Middle School, AZ
Letter on air pollution's impact on health and the environment
Jashaunna Saddler, 11th grade, Miami Norland Senior High School, FL
Letter on domestic violence intervention
Arathi Siluveru, 10th grade, Morris County Vocational School of Technology, NJ
Letter on fentanyl abuse and drug overdoses
Stephanie Olvido, 9th grade, St. Francis High School, CA
Letter on heat islands and climate change's disproportionate impacts on communities of color
Celeste Zwingel, 11th grade, TERRA Environmental Research Institute, FL
Letter on reentry challenges for formerly incarcerated people
Caroline Lowery, 10th grade, St. Andrew's Episcopal School, MS
Letter on abortion access
Carolina Leon, 8th grade, Mountain Trail Middle School, AZ
Letter on immigration
Richard Jiang, 12th grade, Eastside High School, FL
Letter on the pandemic's disproportionate impact on people of color [Spanish]
Kaitlin Kitagawa, 11th grade, King Kekaulike High School, HI
Letter on femicide
Isha Gupta, 5th grade, Daves Creek Elementary School, GA
Letter on air pollution
Kaitlyn Cui, 12th grade, Northwood High School, CA
Letter on police brutality
Ana Cruz, 12th grade, Doral Academy Charter High School, FL
Letter on Internet access and education during the pandemic
Letters were judged by the Pulitzer Center team based on content and structure according to the criteria in the Local Letters for Global Change judging rubric.
Thank you to our semifinal and final round judges: Maryel Cardenas, Donnalie Jamnah, Ethan Ehrenhaft, Ash Guevara, Alexis McCowan, Katherine Jossi, Hayle Wesolowski, Sarah Swan, Fareed Mostoufi, Mark Schulte, S. Jaya Mukherjee, and Hannah Berk.