Ask Congress to Support National History Day!

Breaking News

National History Day (NHD) is asking for your help to gain support from members of Congress for a $1 million National History Day appropriation that will help state programs grow and improve. NHD NEEDS YOUR HELP TODAY! We have two more days left and it is critical that you pick up the phone to contact your members of Congress and ask them to sign the NHD “Dear Colleague” letter.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is circulating what is called a “Dear Colleague” letter (see the full Dear Colleague letter at the end of this post). The letter is similar to a petition that members of Congress sign in support of funding a program. Our goal is get as many members of Congress to sign this letter, which will demonstrate wide-spread support for funding for the NHD program.

The Dear Colleague asks all members of the House to sign their name to the letter supporting NHD. This letter is addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee asking them to support funding NHD in the FY 2011 budget. This is a very common practice, which is implemented during the appropriations process. It is important that we get as many signatures as we can – as soon as we can by COB Friday, March 19. The appropriations committee will literally count every signature and the more signatures we have the better chance we will have of getting $1 million in support.

Thanks to your past efforts, NHD was included in the omnibus spending bill for FY 2009 & FY 2010 with an appropriation of $500,000! It’s important to note that to be included in a congressional budget for the first time is a major accomplishment. National History Day clearly has the attention of members of Congress, so let’s try and build on our success. Keep in mind that we have programs across the country that could use the extra help of an increased congressional appropriation.

What to do?
Never called your Member of Congress before? Don’t worry, it’s easy! All congressional offices can be reached through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121. When you reach your Representative’s office, your call will be answered by a receptionist. Tell him or her that you want to leave a message for the Representative. The receptionist will take down your message.

When calling a Representative’s office, tell them:

  • Your name and the city and state you live in.
  • You are calling to urge the Representative to sign the Dear Colleague letter, in support of funding for National History Day in the FY 2011 budget. The letter is being circulated by Rep. Van Hollen.
  • Why this money would be helpful to the NHD program in your state and district, how it would make an impact to increase the number of participants and improve overall programmatic efforts in the state.
  • They can contact Sarah Schenning in Rep. Van Hollen’s office at (202) 225-5341 with questions or to sign the letter.

Support History Education
Fund the National History Day Program

Dear Colleague:

Please join me in supporting funding for the National History Day program for fiscal year 2011. In 2004, Congress unanimously passed resolutions recognizing the need to improve the teaching and learning of history. Funding for the National History Day (NHD) program was authorized by PL 108-474 and is the only program that works with both students and teachers to improve the teaching and learning of history. In FY09 and FY10, this program was funded at $500,000.

As you may be aware from participating schools in your district, NHD is a yearlong, nonprofit education program dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of history in schools. The program teaches students in grades 6-12 essential skills that will help them succeed in college and the workplace. In fact, the student competition sponsored by NHD is the nation’s oldest and most highly regarded history program for students in grades 6-12.

NHD is an effective and proven program. Indeed, many school districts across America have adopted NHD as a required part of their school curriculum. Independent reviews of students who participate in NHD have demonstrated a dramatic improvement in student research techniques, writing skills, historical knowledge, creativity, literacy, communication skills, and college readiness. These skills will not only help students succeed in school and state assessments, but also in the workforce.

Please join me in signing the attached request letter to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Please note: National History Day is a National Project. Members who sign this letter will be required to submit a certification and an online project request. The FY11 Member Project Request Guide and the database can be accessed through the House system at

Please contact Sarah Schenning at with questions or to sign the letter.


Member of Congress

Dear Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Tiahrt:

A knowledge and appreciation of history gives our young people a valuable understanding of how the world they live in has been shaped by people and events of the past. With schools spending more resources and time focusing on reading, math, and science education, it is important that Congress also support programs to ensure students a quality history and civics education. We thank you for supporting National History Day with an appropriation of $500,000 in fiscal year 2010, and write to support an appropriation of $1 million for the program for fiscal year 2011.

NHD is a yearlong, nonprofit education program, focused on grades 6-12, that works with both students and teachers to improve the teaching and learning of history in schools. Since its inception, the NHD program has successfully served 2.2 million students and teachers across the country. The NHD program sponsors a national history competition every year, as well as summer academies for teachers focused on different historical topics. In addition, a multi-year third-party evaluation of the program is currently underway, and the initial evaluation results demonstrate a positive link between grades and performance on standardized tests and NHD participation. It’s also important to note that NHD appeals equally to a range of students. Early findings show a balance in gender, ethnicities and academic standings in students who participate in NHD.

In 2004, Congress authorized the NHD program through the American History and Civic Education Act. Federal appropriations help NHD reach underserved populations and expand existing services to more students and schools. This appropriation would primarily be devoted to enhancing and expanding current NHD programs and services.

By continuing its support for NHD, Congress will leverage a program that has a proven record of performance. The funding will have a dramatic impact on all states, especially underserved rural and urban areas that have limited funding to engage students and teachers in NHD. Please consider this wise investment in the future of our students and our country.

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