Merit Award Program

DECA’s Merit Awards Program (MAP) provides avenues outside the competitive event structure for individual members to engage in a graduated program of competency based self-improvement activities.  The program handbook “maps” a self-directed path for exploring marketing and increasing marketing expertise — from the bronze level (knowledge) through the silver (analysis) to the gold (interpretation).  With MAP, students receive recognition for their accomplishments on the local, state and national levels.

The Merit Award Program (MAP) was designed to strengthen the instructional areas offered in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, and to give each DECA member an opportunity to work on self-improvement activities. MAP recognizes the ability, interest and creativity of the individual DECA member.

The objective of MAP is to increase the employability of the individual in marketing, finance, hospitality and management fields and to develop an awareness of these areas as a career choice. The program is intended to develop a better understanding of the importance of entrepreneurship, product and service knowledge, and customer satisfaction.


Important Dates:

December 1st – Bronze level names must be submitted on the Google Reporting Form so members can be recognized at the District Conference. (This is entirely optional.)

February 1st – Names for all levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) must be submitted on the Google Reporting Form in order to be eligible for a certificates after the State Conference.

February 10, 2022 – All student participants must be registered for the State Conference.  

February 10, 2022 – A digital copy (PDF) of all Gold Level Merit Award Projects must be uploaded to the online Project Submission Portal.  

February 10, 2022 – A hard copy of all Gold Level Merit Award Projects must be received by the Michigan DECA office.  

2022 State Conference Guidelines:

    1. All students competing at the State Conference MUST be included on the chapter’s submitted conference registration before you can upload projects.
    2. Gold Merit Awards Program students ARE allowed to compete in a roleplay event that competes on Friday.
    3. Gold Merit Awards Program projects will need to be uploaded to the online competition submission portal by the chapter advisor by February 10, 2022. The upload will need to be in one file that includes only Gold level activities. Complete instructions on how to upload projects will be provided in January.
    4. A hard copy of the Gold level activities only must be submitted in an official DECA written event folio [ShopDECA SKU: 4WEFOLI]. Older versions of the folio are acceptable.
    5. The hard copy of the project must be mailed to the Michigan DECA office to be received by February 10, 2022. We strongly recommend shipping with a service that offers tracking of packages. Late arrivals will not be judged, so be sure that it arrives by February 10, 2022. We do not received shipments on the weekends, even if you have paid extra for the service.
    6. The Chapter Advisor should review the work of the students and only submit written events that are a positive reflection on their chapter and their school.
    7. Only the Gold-level projects of students completing all three levels need to be submitted by the deadline. Students completing only in the bronze and/or silver levels need to have their names and occupational areas submitted by the deadline to receive a certificate of participation and will not compete at the State Conference.
    8. The DECA Statement of Assurances and Academic Integrity form (page 53 of the national DECA Guide) certifying the originality of the work must be signed by the advisor and the student before the event is submitted. The DECA Statement of Assurances and Academic Integrity form must be the first page of each entry. Only those students whose name appears on the DECA Statement of Assurances and Academic Integrity form and have been included on the chapter’s registration will be allowed to compete in the event.
    9. The first page is the completed and signed DECA Statement of Assurances and Academic Integrity form. The second page is the title page. The third page is the completed Gold Level MAP Progress Form and the gold level activities, and a bibliography for the gold level. All activities must be in the order indicated on the MAP Progress Forms. A separate Table of Contents should not be submitted.
    10. All Gold-level activities submitted must be typed in 12-point font. We recommend for the major content of the written entry to be double-spaced.
    11. Headings of each Gold-level activity must consist of and be in the following order:
      1. Instructional Area (Economic Understanding, Human Relations, Marketing, Promotion,
      Product & Service Knowledge)
      2. Activity Title
      3. Member’s Name
      4. Completion Date
    12. All activities must be documented by: (activity cover/title pages should not be used):
      Gold level – include a total of 5 activities, 4 pages average = minimum length of 20 pages.
    13. Examples of Original Work consist of the participant’s drawings, photos of the participant’s work or student generated computer illustrations. Photos of products, business maps, internet downloads, etc., may be included but are not calculated in the minimum page count.
    14. Pages must have at least 2/3 page of text to count as a page. If the participant is making a PowerPoint presentation, the pages must be printed as a handout with a minimum of 3 slides per page. Please note that 6 slides on a page does not count as two pages. Hands-on projects must have at least a one-page narrative to support the photos of the hands on-work.
    15. All pages are numbered starting at page 1 and match the Progress Reporting Form.
    16. Projects with more than 30 penalty points will not be allowed to advance to the next level of competition. Those projects will be returned, and the student will not be allowed to attend the State Conference as a Gold Merit Award Participant. The registration fee will be refunded at the 50% refund rate.
    17. A team of volunteer advisors will review the projects online to access penalty points prior to the conference.
    18. Michigan DECA staff will upload all entries to to be screened for plagiarism. The entries will be screened by Michigan DECA staff by the end of February. Evidence of plagiarism or cheating shall result in the student being disqualified from competition. No refunds will be given for disqualified dropped students.
    19. Michigan DECA will send the entries to judges that have volunteered to evaluate written events online prior to the State Conference.


2022 Presentation Guidelines:

  1. Participants will give a 10-minute presentation at the State Career Development Conference, which should cover the five gold level projects. The presentation will be followed by a 5-minute question and answer period.
  2. The presentation begins immediately after the introduction of the participants to the judge by the adult assistant.
  3. Each participant may bring a copy of the project or note cards pertaining to the project and use as reference during the presentation.
  4. Only visual aids that can be easily hand carried to the presentation by the actual participant will be permitted. The participant must set up the visuals without assistance. Wheeled carts, moving straps or similar items may not be used to bring visuals into the area. Set up time is included in the total presentation time. Participants must furnish their own materials and equipment. No electrical power or internet connection will be supplied. Alternate power sources such as small generators are not allowed. Sound may be used, if the volume is kept at a conversational level.
  5. Materials appropriate to the situation may be handed to or left with judges in all competitive events. Items of monetary value may be handed to but may not be left with judges. Items such as flyers, brochures, pamphlets, and business cards may be handed to or left with the judge.
  6. No food or drinks allowed.
  7. Video may be shown during the presentation but are not to be included with the project when it is uploaded for competition.
  8. Participants will not be able to use the hotel or convention center internet for their written event presentations, because that would involve asking someone else to help them with their equipment. (Refer to the presentation guidelines.) They may use an internet aircard or personal hotspot with their computer if the participants have one. But we caution that it could be difficult for participants to receive and maintain a connection due to so many people using cell phones while at the conference. If they lose connection, they will not be given additional time. Our suggestion is for anything that participants might want to reference during the presentation, to save it directly onto the computer.
  9. Special consideration during the evaluation will be given for special needs students that are unable to complete the above guidelines. Such a request needs to be communicated by the chapter advisor to the Michigan DECA State Director.
  10. Awards will be given to the outstanding projects and will be evaluated using the Outstanding Gold Project Evaluation form, which can be found on Michigan DECA’s website at
  11. Projects receiving less than 75 points will not advance on to the International Conference.


International Conference Screening and Competition:

For Gold Level Projects competing at the International Career Development Conference, all items above for the State Conference apply, plus these additional points listed below:

  1. If a Gold Merit Award Program delegate is elected as an incoming State Officer at the State Conference, they will NOT be allowed to compete in the Gold Merit Award Program at the International Conference.
  2. If a Gold Merit Award Program delegate qualifies to attend the International Conference in another competitive event, they will NOT be allowed to compete in Gold Merit Award Program; the International DECA event has priority.
  3. Projects will NOT be uploaded for competition that the International Conference.
  4. Two copies of ONLY the five gold level activities are to be turned in at the specified time and location at the International Conference. Each copy needs to be in a separate DECA written event folio [ShopDECA SKU: 4WEFOLI], not a binder.
  5. Any project that received penalty points at the State Conference, needs to be corrected prior to being submitted at the International Conference.
  6. Each project will be re-examined for penalty points at the International Conference, so please correct any penalty points that were awarded during the State Conference.
  7. Two advisors will evaluate each project.
  8. Participants will give a 10-minute presentation at the International Career Development Conference. The presentation should cover the five gold level projects. The presentation will be followed by a 5-minute question/answer period.
  9. Participants must follow the International Conference Dress Code. This includes wearing a DECA blazer when being judged.
  10. The top participants will be recognized as an outstanding project at Michigan DECA’s State Recognition Session at the International Career Development Conference.
  11. The decision of the judges is final. Students and advisors are not to ask judges for justification of their scores.