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Funding Your Trip to National History Day

A trip to Washington, D.C. and the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest is an experience that lasts a lifetime. We want every eligible student to participate in this exciting event. However, we realize that sometimes raising the money to cover the cost of travel and registration can seem a bit daunting. There are many funding sources available to help students with the costs of participating in NHD, and many students just like you have had success gaining support from their local communities.

Each year more than half of NHD national contest participants raise the funds they need to attend the national contest from local businesses and from civic community and leadership organizations. As one of the leaders of tomorrow, you are exactly the type of individual these local organizations want to help. The first place you should look for funding assistance is your school. Many school administrations and PTA groups help fund student attendance at the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest. Ask your teacher what types of funding sources may be available from your school district. Most districts have funds set aside to support athletic and academic competitions. Students representing their state at NHD may receive funding the same way a basketball team playing in the state playoffs does. If your school district cannot help support your trip ask them to write a letter of introduction to local businesses; members of the school board might be able to ask a business or organization to sponsor your trip.

There are plenty of places to find potential sponsors in your area. The local Chamber of Commerce, Visitor's Bureau and similar agencies have free directories and lists of businesses and community organizations in your vicinity. Additionally, Yellow Pages of the phone book offer a quick treasury of local businesses. Organizations like Jaycees, Rotary, Kiwanis Clubs, banks, patriotic groups (such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and Daughters of the American Revolution) and others may help support NHD student projects.

Once you have a list of organizations or businesses that might help you, the next step is to introduce yourself and your NHD project. A letter is a terrific form of introduction. In the letter, clearly state the following: your name, school, phone number, where you live, your grade, and why you are writing. Next state that you are representing your state at the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, explain what NHD is and why you want to attend the national contest. Finally, state how much money you will need and your desire to meet and discuss this further. Use our sample fundraising letter as a model. Remember, your letter is the only information a potential sponsor has when deciding whether to see you and to give you funding, so be creative and positive. Good fundraising letters convince readers that the request is worthwhile.

Give the potential sponsor information to make the decision. Tell them how much you need and suggest that they may provide all or part of the money. Also, tell them what other businesses and organizations you are soliciting. Important: keep a copy of the letter for your records. An individual or business you have solicited may lose it or ask about it, and you want to be able to send a duplicate and answer their questions confidently. After you receive sponsors be sure to write them a thank you letter and then send them a picture of yourself at the national contest. You might offer to present your NHD project to the organization or business.

Click here for the sample letter