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beckman Award 


The Arnold O. Beckman Political Award offered through the Caltech Y promotes engaged citizenship by providing motivated Caltech students with an opportunity to explore the various facets of elective government—both as possible careers in government and to increase general understanding of the legislative process - at the local, state, and national levels. Students propose an experience they design that meets the overall goals of the award.  Proposed experiences can span multiple days to several months.


Interested students should independently seek and research internships and other opportunities in the area of elective government and propose an experience that meets purpose of the award.

Applications Due: October 23rd by noon         

Finalist Interviews: Thursday, November 2nd between 3-6 PM

Who is Eligible

  • Applicants must be enrolled Caltech Undergraduate or Graduate students in good academic standing.

  • Applicants choosing an international destination must be 18 years or older.  There is no age restriction for domestic destinations, however a parent/guardian will be expected to sign a waiver.

Proposal Guidelines

If you are an interested Caltech undergraduate or graduate student who is in good academic standing, you should submit the itemized budget form with anticipated expenses and the application that provides:

  • Requested demographic information.

  • A concise written proposal explaining a description of how you intend to use the award and how these plans fulfill the spirit and purpose of the award.  Please also include what you hope to gain from the experience. 

  • Added details, if travel is proposed.

  • Acknowledgment of the agreements that recipients will be expected to sign.

Application and Selection Process

A selection committee consisting of Caltech Y Board Members, students, faculty and/or staff will review proposals, identify and interview finalists, select the recipients, and determine award amounts based on need, and funding available. Partial funding may also-be offered.

  • Criteria include the following:
         o Does the applicant clearly demonstrate a personal commitment and interest in the issue/cause?
         o Does it seem like the experience will provide a good opportunity to learn about, or engage in, what          was proposed by the applicant?
         o Is the proposed budget reasonable?
         ​o Does the applicant distinguish herself or himself as someone who will engage in the cause or learn to        be a new or important voice for the issue addressed?

  • Awardee(s) cannot hold multiple travel awards (e.g. Bishop, San Pietro, ACT, etc).

  • SURF students are not permitted to have other commitments during SURF, including evenings or weekends, however, activities before or after the SURF period are eligible. The proposed project can also be an extension of the SURF, but it must be distinct and not overlap in time with the SURF.

Selection of an Educational Experience

Interested students should independently seek and research internships and other opportunities in the area of elective government and propose an experience that meets purpose of the award.  Note:

  • The applicant should pursue an experience that meets the broad topic of elective government.  However, per IRS regulations, the proposed project cannot support a proposed ballot initiative or a political campaign or organization that participates or intervenes in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. 

  • Proposed experiences can engage elective government issues at the local, state, and/or national level and can span various time frames.  Examples may include working in a government official’s office, a fellowship or internship in a governmental or policy office (e.g. AAAS or NAS), conducting research on the election process, participating in Congressional Visits Day, or a policy-related program such as the Independent California Colleges Advocate Program (ICCAP).

What Awardees Receive

Applicants may request up to $6,000 to cover expenses for the educational experience, including transportation (flights, trains, shuttles, taxis, tolls, travel insurance, visas, required vaccinations, etc.); lodgings (hotels, hotels, rental properties, etc.); relevant excursions (museums, monuments, venues relevant to the proposal); and program costs (registration and program fees for conferences, classes, mentor organizations, etc.).  The selection committee will determine award amounts (may be full or partial funding) based on need, and funding available.  The award may have tax and financial aid implications.  Students are advised to consult with a tax advisor and/or the financial aid office with any questions.

What is required of Awardees

  • Meet with Y staff to review and sign an agreement outlining expectations and deadlines

  • Coordinate and complete the proposed experience as outlined and approved by September 12th.  Please note: Any changes to the proposed experience must be pre-approved.

  • Submit a spending summary, including receipts, with each request for reimbursement.

  • Submit a report sharing details on what was done, learned/gained from the experience, along with pictures, that can be shared with donors, and used for reports and promotional materials. Reports can be made in a mutually agreed upon format (for example, but not limited to - a written document, video presentation, blog post, interview, article for the Tech or the Caltech Y Newsletter, etc.)

  • The deadline for submitting the trip report and spending summary/receipts is September 15th.

  • Recipients may-also-be asked to give an optional presentation summarizing the experience to members of the Y Staff, Board of Directors, and/or donors, as well as interested students as available.

Help from the Caltech Y

The Caltech Y is here to help! Applicants with questions about the award or application process are encouraged seek input from Greg or Athena via phone 626-395-6163, email, or in-person at the Caltech Y.

Some Past Recipients:

2019     Ariel Hasse worked in the office of Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

2019     Ben Cassese interned with the Space Studies Board at the National Academies of Science

2002     Ted Jou worked in the office of Senator Diane Feinstein (CA) on foreign policy issues and assisting her

             Press Secretary on administrative tasks

The Caltech Y reserves the right to revoke the award at any point due to safety and security concerns or changes in recipient eligibility or proposal. 

To apply you must submit both the application and a budget.

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