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Pulitzer Center Update January 10, 2024

Winners and Finalists: Local Letters for Global Change 2023

Decorative graphic for the Local Letters for Global Change contest

Students are invited to make their voices heard this election season by writing a letter to their representative that explains the global issue they want to see prioritized. Deadline: November 13...

August 16, 2023
Decorative graphic showing a collage of photos from the featured news stories.

The Pulitzer Center congratulates the 2023 Local Letters for Global Change contest winners and finalists!

Every year, the Local Letters for Global Change contest asks students: What global issues are affecting you and your community, and what change do you want to see in the world?


We congratulate the sixteen contest winners and finalists whose work is published below on their lucid descriptions of how diverse global issues impact them on a local and personal level, and the compelling solutions they present. These varied letters illuminate how AI surveillance technology impacts students’ freedom of expression, connect food insecurity to local histories of systemic racism, and emphasize the global consequences of oil pollution. Students call on their elected representatives to take action, and provide creative solutions that demonstrate research, empathy, and an understanding of the systemic issues underlying everyday problems.


The winning entries were selected from nearly 800 entries written by students in fifteen countries, 26 U.S. states, and the District of Columbia—our most geographically diverse entry pool to date. We are grateful to every student who took part in the Local Letters process: engaging deeply with global issues through news stories, exploring the relevance of those issues to their lives, and taking informed action. We invite you to explore the letters below to learn more about students’ visions for a better world, and to take inspiration from their calls to action.

Contest Winners

First Place, High School Category (Tied)

Miqueas Ramirez De La Rosa, 11th grade, Benjamin Banneker High School, D.C.
Letter on labor exploitation and racial justice

James Wan, 11th grade, Central Bucks East High School, PA
Letter on book bans

First Place, Middle School Category

Rea Xyrille D. Tumbaga, 7th grade, Philippine Science High School - Main Campus, Philippines
Letter on oil pollution

First Place, Elementary School Category

Claire Marble, 4th grade, Ross Elementary School, D.C.
Letter on flooding


Aarya Karmarkar, 8th grade, Moody Middle School, VA
Letter on the health impacts of plastic chemicals

Olivia Davison-Gauss, 9th grade, Galway High School, NY
Letter on the use of artificial intelligence by educational institutions

Valerie Antoniette Hardin, 9th grade, SMPK 4 PENABUR Jakarta, Indonesia
Letter on Indigenous rights and mangrove forest conservation

Sahana Altevogt, 6th grade, Sidwell Friends School, D.C.
Letter on climate change-induced natural disasters

Avni Chidella, 11th grade, BASIS Peoria, AZ
Letter on book bans [Spanish]

Carlos Manuel Eusoya, 12th grade, Philippine Science High School - Western Visayas Campus, Philippines
Letter on political dissent and freedom of expression

Violet Sandridge, 7th grade, Summit Charter Middle School, CO
Letter on climate change and gray whale conservation

Dylan Cortegana, 10th grade, Morris County School of Technology, NJ
Letter on access to education for undocumented immigrants

Ethan Fizette, 8th grade, Francine Delany New School for Children, NC
Letter on Indigenous language preservation

Yuki Heeger, 11th grade, Hopkins School, CT
Letter on food security and racial justice

Pragyaan Gaur, 12th grade, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar School of Specialised Excellence (STEM), Civil Lines, India
Letter on air pollution

Holly Wormer, 9th grade, Henrietta Lacks Bioscience High School, WA
Letter on sustainable agriculture


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. The views expressed in these letters do not necessarily represent the views of the Pulitzer Center, its staff, or contest judges.

Thank you to our semifinal and final round judges: Elliott Adams, Hannah Berk, Alexandra Byrne, Maryel Cardenas, Kendra Grissom, Jessica Mims, Fareed Mostoufi, S. Jaya Mukherjee, and Mark Schulte.