Imagine Louisiana recognizes that some of the most important, innovative, and transformative ideas about the best ways in which we can build a sustainable and prosperous future are generated by Louisiana’s college students in all corners of the state.

But today, public higher education in Louisiana has never been more at risk. During the last eight years, Louisiana cut funding for higher education, on a per capita basis, more than any other state in the nation. Our campuses are crumbling due to years of negligence. Thousands of hard-working students are now at risk of losing their scholarships. Schools are in jeopardy of being closed or privatized.

Our misplaced priorities have marginalized both the value of a robust system of higher education and the students in which that system serves.

We want to give Louisiana’s college students a seat at the policy table. We want to hear their concerns, and more importantly, we want to hear their solutions.

Lamar was 23 when he launched his website, only a year after finishing his undergraduate degree. Cayman was 17 when he managed his first-ever political campaign. And their friend Zack Kopplin was still a high school student when he took on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana legislature over a “creationism in the classroom” law. Young people can and do make a difference, but too often, they lack the resources and the access required to have their voices heard in meaningful ways.

In the near future, Inspire Louisiana hopes to partner with colleges and universities in order to help amplify the ideas, the criticisms, and the analysis of our best and brightest young people.

But for now, if you are an undergraduate enrolled in a Louisiana college or university, we encourage you to apply to become one of three Imagine Louisiana college policy scholars.

The positions are unpaid, and they do not require a tremendous time commitment. What they provide, however, is an opportunity to work with our team and with our volunteer experts to craft a ten-page white paper on how to improve and strengthen Louisiana college academics. Most of this work will be conducted online and collaboratively.

The three Imagine Louisiana college policy scholars will be the sole writers of this paper, and your final work will be distributed to every state legislator, Congressman, Senator, university president, and Gov. John Bel Edwards for their consideration.

How to apply:

You need to be currently enrolled as an undergraduate in a public college or university in Louisiana.

You need to write a two (2) page letter explaining why education policy matters to you, outlining some of your ideas about the ways in which Louisiana can make things better. You’ll also need to include your resumé and at least one (1) letter of recommendation (it doesn’t have to be long) from a professor, mentor, or a professional.

Send your letters as PDF attachments to lamarw@gmail.com with the subject line “Inspire Louisiana college policy scholar.”

The deadline is May 10, 2016.

By May 17th, we will select the top three applicants, connect you virtually, and work with you to edit and structure your white paper, with the goal of crafting a paper worthy of publication. Afterward, we will work with you to crystalize your primary arguments and recommendations into an 800-word article that will be distributed to every major newspaper in the state.

There is no application fee involved. Inspire Louisiana is taking on this project at no cost because empowering young opinion leaders and cultivating principled public servants are critical to our mission.

The final product will be completed no later than June 1, 2016. 

Young people in particular should remember: The first step in making a difference is showing up.