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.
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.