League of Municipalities offers opportunity to win $1,000 scholarship

Mayor Jim Bilella seeks juniors and senior applicants for a statewide competition which focuses on municipal government.

Berlin Borough junior and senior high school students have the opportunity to win up to $1,000 in scholarships, as Mayor Jim Bilella recently partnered with the state League of Municipalities, adopting the organization’s Louis Bay Second Future Municipal Leaders Scholarship Competition.

The statewide voluntary association, which aims to assist communities to do a better job of self-government through pooling information, resources and brainpower, is seeking students who are particularly interested in municipal policy and politics.

Along with Eastern Regional High School students, the application is open to any borough resident who is a high school junior or senior.

“The idea is to spur interest in local government and to promote civic engagement,” Bilella said. “We want to make sure high school students are aware that local government affects their lives and lives of the people in the town.”

Bilella says he hopes to receive several submissions since the the application process is relatively simple. The main requirement is a 500-word essay centering on the theme, “What My Municipal Government Does Best.”

Students must illustrate their perceptions and experiences with local leaders, including the public’s contributions to the municipality. The essay cannot include additional information such as references or transcripts.

The submissions will not only offer students across Berlin a chance to alleviate college expenses, but the competition also “seeks to advance the virtues” of elected and volunteer officials in the borough.

“Hopefully, people realize that there’s a lot of people out there who are interested in government on a local level,” Bilella said.

After the borough picks a submission, the winners from each municipality across the state will be designated a semi-finalist. From there, their essays will be reviewed by the Scholarship Committee of the League of Municipalities. The committee plans to select 15 finalists, who will receive certificates, and three winners, who will each be given $1,000 by their mayor at a hometown ceremony.

“People are always looking for opportunities to help pay for college,” Bilella said. “I want to make sure our residents can take advantage of this opportunity.”

Applicants will even have a chance to be professionally published, as the the winning essays will run in the New Jersey Municipalities magazine.

All essays and applications must be submitted via email to clerk@berlinnj.org by Friday, March 16.

“As mayor, I’m excited to be a part of this chance for our residents to receive assistance with college costs,” Bilella said.

Applications can be found at theberlinsun.com or berlinnj.org.