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Research & Service Leadership Symposium

Preparing Your Application

The RSLS application includes several parts — with your project proposal description as a key component. The proposal is the primary information that will be used by the selection committee when reviewing your application.

Your Guide to a Great Proposal

  • Focused Project Idea. In the project description (or proposal ), you want to express the goal of your project, your purpose, why you are interested in this project, your methods or strategies for completing the project, and why others should be interested. Keep your ideas focused by opening with a single sentence that offers your main research question, or that explains your main goal. This is also an opportunity to demonstrate that you've thought deeply about your project. 
  • Methodology & Strategy. The quality of projects so often hinges on the quality of the methodology or strategy used.  Your research projects should utilize discipline-appropriate protocols and methods. For example, if you are conducting a sociological study, consider ethical practices, documentation, and inclusivity. For a project in chemistry, use the scientific method to hypothesize, conduct a repeatable experiment, define and evaluate your data. For service projects, consider the steps to achieve your goals, who will be served, and how you will measure and document the results of your activity. Art projects, while much more flexible, should be thoughtful about choice of material, design, strategy, and presentation. In each project consider how you will approach your project, and why.
  • Clear Writing. In order to convey the subject of your project effectively, you must use clear, easy-to-follow writing. Take time to review your sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. Also check that your main ideas and descriptions are clear to others. Have someone unfamiliar with your project read your proposal to see if they understand it easily.  You can also visit the Tutoring Center* for help with editing and organizing your thoughts! 
  • Word Length. Convey your ideas in 100-200 words. This is equal to 1-2  concise paragraphs.  Use word count in your document to craft your proposal. If you need assistance trimming or expanding your ideas, visit the Tutoring Center*

Additional Resources

Use the Learning Resource Center for support as you develop and draft your proposal:

*Visit the Tutoring Center. View the step-by-step video for how to sign in and get connected with tutors.

**Use the Foothill Library Guides for evaluating sources, the citation tools for your references, or contact a librarian directly: Ask a Librarian.


The Application Basics

Once you've prepared your proposal, review the application carefully, and gather the necessary resources before completing the form. Below are key considerations and tips for specific fields.

Apply Online & Edit

You will submit your application for the RSLS online through the Symposium Application page. Once submitted, you will be able to review and edit your application. You have until the application deadline to make further adjustments. 

Tips for Group Applications 

Only submit ONE application. If working in a group, collaborate on the project proposal in advance, and select one person to submit the application.

Lead Presenter & Additional Presenters

If you are working with a group or team, select your lead presenter carefully. This individual will likely be the one to submit the application. This individual will be the first point-of-contact, and the one who will be able to make edits to the project details.

Then, use the drop-down to continue adding presenters.

Please include full contact information for each of the presenters. 

If you are working independently, simply complete this form with your personal information. 


You may have 1 or 2 mentors for your project.  The lead mentor must be a Foothill or De Anza faculty or staff member.

Before submitting an application, select your mentor by reaching out to your teachers, counselors, club advisors, or other staff on campus. You can use the sample letter in our Getting Connected page to help you, or reach out to RSLS@fhda.edu for a list of potential mentors.

Please include the full name and contact information for your mentors. All Foothill faculty and staff will have the same format for email: LastNameFirstName@fhda.edu.

Project Title

Use a descriptive title that clearly captures your project topic and focus. This will help the selection committee.

Academic projects typically use Title: Subtitle. This format allows you to give a powerful title, but offer greater detail on the scope or impact in the subtitle.

 Project Type

There are three main project types listed in the application and an alternative: 

  • Research
  • Service
  • Creative Arts
  • Still Deciding/Unknown

While these categories may overlap, we recommend selecting the dominant focus for your project. If your project is a hybrid (science and art, or service and research), or you're still determining the direction your project will ultimately take, you may select "Still Deciding/Unknown." 

By clicking on each within the application form, you will see the drop-down detail for the project description. This is the proposal discussed above!

Project Description (Proposal)

By clicking on the project type, you will see the drop-down detail for the project description. The suggestions will vary slightly depending on the type of project. 

Use the Guide to a Great Proposal section to help you develop your 100-200 word description.

In general, use the following guidelines: State the topic and focus of your project. Describe your goals and the strategies you will use to achieve them. Explain the potential value of this project to the larger community.


For all project types, provide references to 3 sources that have guided or inspired your project, including initial research. 

Consider references that are relevant and appropriate to your project, including academic articles and studies from reputable and credible sources, as well as websites for service organizations, or videos from artists. For research projects, these sources show us that you are thoughtfully exploring your topic. For service and arts projects, these sources can help us understand the scope or value of your work within the community.

Use the citation format for your discipline. If unsure, use MLA or APA. Use the Foothill Library** tools  to help you research, select, evaluate, and cite high-quality resources.

Images (optional)

If you have them, include up to 3 images of your work, including photos, graphs, illustrations, etc. 

These images can be especially beneficial for the selection committee when evaluating creative arts projects, or when you want to illustrate a process or show community service work. 

Once your projects are completed, you will have an opportunity to upload new images for the Gallery page on Canvas

Will My Project Be Selected?

Selection Process & Notification

Upon submitting your application, you will receive notification that your work is in review. All applications will be reviewed by the selection committee following the submission deadline  March 10th, 2024.

You will receive notification of acceptance by March 25, 2024.  For more on the selection process, visit the Committee Review Selection Process

Aiming High: Awards & Recognition

Judges' Award

A cash prize of $100 will be awarded to each member of the 5 highest quality/most impactful projects.  Winners will be selected based on the submitted application materials, the final project submission, and presentation.

Viewers' Choice Award

Additional awards will be decided by the viewers and attendees of the Symposium. The top 5 most highly rated presentations/projects will be recognized and awarded at the end of the event. Winners will be selected by audience members and participants through a live poll during the Symposium.

Presenter Recognition

All presenters will be recognized for their hard work and participation in the event in the following ways:

  • Transcript note of RSLS participation
  • Graduation cords (upon request)
  • President's token of appreciation


Application Closed for 2024

Research and Service Leadership Symposium 2023

Please contact us!

Allison Herman,
Laura Gamez,
Lisa Schultheis
RSLS  Coordinators


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