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Writing for 10 Ideas

From 10 Ideas to Whitepapers, how to write for Roo


10 Ideas is the Roosevelt Network’s annual program that helps students across the country generate policy proposals.  Each year, students research, write, and advocate for ideas that are generated through this program’s trainings and workshops. 10 Ideas policies seek to change the rules that guide our social and economic realities, pushing for investment in our public goods and institutions.

Your 10 Ideas policy idea should fall under one of these policy centers:

    • Foreign Policy 
    • Economy
    • Education 
    • Energy & Environment 
    • Human Rights 
    • Health care 
    • Democratic Access

Final Submissions for 10 Ideas 2019 are due 11:59pm EST, November 30th! 


10 Ideas policies seek to change the rules that guide our social and economic realities, pushing for investment in our public goods and institutions.


You should consult this document, and the 10 Ideas rubric, as you research and write; they provide important tips for how to construct an effective 10 Ideas policy memo, and tell you information about how submissions are evaluated.  You should also participate in chapter-level and national programming and trainings that will help you research, write, edit, and advocate for your policy idea. 

More information on 10 Ideas deadlines and deliverables are available through our 10 Ideas website:

Required 10 Ideas Sections:

Submissions that lack one or more of the requirements outlined below are disqualified from consideration. 

Title (4-12 words)

In a few words, the title should create a sense of policy action and urgency. Using a colon is a great way to include both the problem and the solution in only 4-12 words.


·       Closing Orphaned Wells: Preventing Spills When Oil Companies Go Bankrupt

·       Illegal Guns in Chicago: Holding Firearm Buyers and Sellers Accountable

Thesis Statement (20-40 words)

Your thesis statement should provide a one-two sentence summary of your problem and solution. This section should clearly: 1) introduce the problem you are seeking to address 2) provide a brief description of your policy solution 3) Identify key actors/institutions that could implement your policy. Brevity is key; please stick within the word limit. 

Example: Modernizing Maryland’s Tax System: Authorizing the use of Pre-Populated Personal Tax Returns: Maryland’s General Assembly should authorize the establishment of a pre-populated personal tax return (PPTR) system for simple returns to reduce the state’s cost of processing returns, improve accuracy, and create a straightforward service for Maryland taxpayers. 

Background & Analysis (175-230 words)

The Background & Context section should provide a baseline introduction to your problem and the potential for a solution. This section should outline:

    • The causes and effects of the issue in historical context
    • Key groups or communities that are impacted, incorporating gathered personal accounts of impact or personal lived experiences.   
    • Urgent need for policy change.


Some questions to consider include:

    • What is the issue you are addressing?
    • Whom does the issue currently impact? Who has it impacted historically? Who has been historically left out of discourse around this policy issue?
    • How did this issue come to be?
    • What systemic breakdowns led to this issue?
    • How has the issue been dealt with in the past and why isn’t it working?
    • Who has been involved in addressing the issue historically?
    • Why is it important to act on the issue immediately?

Talking Points

Talking points provide the 3-4 key messages of your campaign for anyone that would like to advocate your idea. These talking points should also be short, bullet-point phrases (not sentences). These should include 1) core arguments in support of your policy 2) urgent need for immediate action.

Example: Employing a supplier diversity manager will streamline regulatory compliance and reporting and more efficiently connect purchasers to diverse suppliers.

The Policy Idea (70-90 words)

This section is where you introduce your policy idea – your solution to the problem you’ve outlined in the previous section. Policies should be in line with our values as Roosevelters -- pushing America toward further gender equity, racial inclusion, democratic access, and environmental stewardship, and opportunity for all. The policy should also be innovative, either addressing a new issue, presenting a new issue to an established problem, or implementing an existing policy idea in a new and innovative way (like changing the level of government or location).

Policy Analysis (200-250 words)

The Policy Analysis section is where you will attempt to sell the value and importance of your policy read to a neutral observer. This section should outline:

1.           Why your policy proposal is the best solution to the issue at hand. To do this, compare and contrast other policies through cost-benefit analysis, budget projections, target audience size and impact, multiplier effects, consequences of inaction, case studies, and more.

2.         How your policy proposal demonstrates a commitment to Intersectionality (how different issues affect us differently based on the identities that we hold, and how they interact). For example, an economic policy may impact various groups differently (ie: women would benefit as a whole but women of color would benefit the most); Identify those differences and explain their importance in the context of the policy.

3.         The potential impact of your policy on the community and/or the location it’s targeting. Be specific and provide measurable information as much as possible.

4.         Relevant facts, numbers and other statistically relevant data points to convince your audience. This is not a place to editorialize or offer opinions.

 Note: Since you will not be able to include all your research here, it’s important to prioritize the most compelling points for this section.

Next Steps (100-150 words)

In this section, you should use the Ideas Organizing framework to outline the next steps toward implementing your policy solution. The Ideas Organizing framework is:

    • Identify a problem
    • Build agency
    • Design a policy
    • Influence a decision maker
    • Solve the Problem

In the context of these organizing phases, you should be clear how you have, or will:

    • Identify the institution responsible for the change you’re prescribing
    • Work with key allies in the research, writing, and advocacy process
    • Identify key targets for supporting your policy’s implementation

For a more detailed understanding of allies, institutions and targets please refer to Roosevelt’s Mapping the Institution training on Loft. 

Key Facts (75-100 words)

These 3-4 key facts should be short, bullet-point phrases (not long sentences) that provide the reader with simple, thought-provoking statistics/facts (with citations), tailored specifically to the policy you’re proposing. These may overlap with your policy analysis, as long as they list the most important figures to understanding the importance and specifics of your policy.

Example: For every $100 spent locally, $52 is re-circulated or reinvested within the community.

Note: While talking points identify the key arguments in support of your policy, key facts provide hard data to back up your claims.

Action Plan Snapshot (150-400 words)

This section is to share your top-level strategy to drive your idea into action. It should include the following components:

·       Campus/Community Outreach: Provide a plan for how you are going to promote your policy idea and do outreach on campus and in your community. Also include the tactics you are going to employ to retain supporters and keep them engaged.

·       Policy Affairs (Legislative/Government/Administrative): Include specific legislative actions (testify before _______, lobby ______, participate in public forum, etc.).

·       Coalition: Provide a list of key partners you want to have meetings with to organize around your policy idea.

·       Communication Plan: Give us insight to the media message you are planning to use, what outlets you are prioritizing, and the spokespeople you need to tell a compelling story.

·       Timeline: Provide a six-month timeline (December-to-May).

·       Other: Be creative and share with us other strategies to build your idea to impact.



Your 10 Ideas submission must include an endnotes section.  Endnotes provide legitimacy and credibility to your piece.

They must follow the Chicago-Style citation guidelines. To ensure total accuracy, we are requiring that all submissions use the automatic endnote tool on the Word.doc.  If you are unsure about citations, please do not hesitate to reach out to Policy Coordinators, or National Staff.

Tools like Zotero (free, automatic citation generator) can be a great place to start for citing your sources, and speed up the process.



Please see the Files section of this page for various resources, including trainings, timelines, and the 10 Ideas grading rubric. Additionally, we encourage all authors to reach out to Policy Coordinators for support in developing their ideas and memos. Their respective contact information is as follows: 

- Education: Manon Steel (

- Economy: Austin Shirley (

- Democratic Access: Aden Muhammad (

- Healthcare: Aditya Krishnaswamy (

- Human Rights: Clara Harter (

- Energy & Environment: Matt Walsh (


Check out the 2018 10 Ideas journal here, and the 2017 10 Ideas here.