What would you do with $1 trillion dollars? Ask a young filmmaker

The American Friends Service Committee and National Priorities Project are preparing to announce the six lucky winners of If I Had a Trillion Dollars (IHTD), a national video contest which asks young people to convey how they would spend the more than $1 trillion dollars spent on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After receiving 48 compelling video submissions from passionate young men and women across the country, AFSC and NPP will be announcing first, second and third place prizes in both the middle/high school and the college level categories on January 17, 2011, the celebrated birthday of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. All videos can be viewed on the IHTD YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/IHTDVideos.

The two national organizations launched this collaboration with the goal of engaging young people in conversation about military spending and our nation’s federal budget priorities. First prize is a trip to Washington, D.C. and a video screening for members of Congress and the Obama Administration, to coincide with the release of the President's 2012 budget.

A panel of esteemed artists/scholars, Haydn Reiss, Andrea Assaf, Diana Coryat and Vijay Prashad, will judge the submissions and decide the winners.

Nathara Bailey, at Amherst Regional High School (MA) reflected that she “had never worked with federal figures and the only thing [she] knew about the budget was from [her] own school and seeing [programs] being cut.” While she had an idea of how much money the wars have cost, working with the exact figures “created a whole other level or layer to [her] understanding of how much money was being spent.” Bailey focused on education because “everything starts there…there are a lot of things missing in [the] education system due to the budget and that’s really unfortunate because that’s where we are supposed to start being people.”

Cara Cheng, at Lick-Wilmerding High School (CA) wrote, “Instead of using $1 trillion to harm, we have multiple alternatives to use the money to benefit the world. I participated in this contest to help our community and our world.”

Aiden Tharp, at the University of Chicago (IL) offered, “The number one change I would like to see in my community is better and broader funding of social service programs, whether housing, food, income, children and family services or education. Just one example of where we need help is with homeless youth in Chicago. On any given night there are approximately 9.000 homeless youth looking for shelter but only 306 beds available.”

To view and comment on the videos, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/IHTDVideos. For more on the contest, visit http://afsc.org/action/if-i-had-trillion-dollars-youth-video-contest.

For more on AFSC’s work for peace and justice, visit www.afsc.org. To find out more about the federal budget and spending, visit http://nationalpriorities.org/.