Merit Award Program

Forms and guidelines for the 2021-2022 school year are currently being updated, and will be posted in the fall

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 2022 (TBA) – A digital copy (PDF) of all Gold Level Merit Award Projects must be uploaded to the online Written Entry Portal.  


The following summary of standards are in effect for the Merit Award Program.

    1. All students competing at the State Conference MUST be included on the chapter’s conference registration.
    2. Hard copies are no longer required.
    3. Merit Awards Projects will need to be uploaded to the Chapter Registration Portal by the chapter advisor February 2022 (TBA). The upload will need to be in one file that includes all levels and all activities in each level. Complete instructions on how to upload projects will be provided in January.
    4. Any events that are found to be plagiarized or previously submitted into competition will be disqualified. Those students will be dropped from the conference, and are not eligible for a refund of the conference registration fee.
    5. Chapter Advisors should review the work of the students and only submit written events that are a positive reflection on their chapter and their school.
    6. Only projects of students completing all three levels need to be submitted by the annual deadline. Students completing only in the bronze and/or silver levels only 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.
    7. The DECA Statement of Assurances and Academic Integrity form 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 form will be allowed to compete in the event.
    8. 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 Bronze Level MAP Progress Form, followed by the bronze level activities, and a bibliography for the bronze level. Next is the Silver Level MAP Progress Form and the silver level activities, and a bibliography for the silver level. Next is the 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 each of the MAP Progress Forms. A separate Table of Contents for each level should not be submitted.
    9. All 22 level activities submitted must be typed in 12 point font. We recommend for the major content of the written entry to be double-spaced.
    10. Headings of each activity must consist of and be in the following order:
      1. Award Level (Bronze, Silver, Gold)
      2. Instructional Area (Economic Understanding, Human Relations, Marketing, Promotion, Product & Service Knowledge)
      3. Activity Title
      4. Member’s Name
      5. Completion Date
    11. All activities must be documented by: (activity cover/title pages should not be used):
      Bronze level – include a total of 10 activities, 2 pages average = minimum length of 20 pages.
      Silver level – include a total of 7 activities, 3 pages average = minimum length of 21 pages.
      Gold level – include a total of 5 activities, 4 pages average = minimum length of 20 pages.
    12. 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 down loads, etc., may be included but are not calculated in the minimum page count.
    13. 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.
    14. All pages are numbered beginning with the first activity in the Bronze section.
    15. 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.
    16. 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/answer period.
    17. The participant may use the following items during the oral presentation:
      • Not more than three (3) standard-sized posters not to exceed 22.5 inches by 30.5 inches each. Participant may use both sides of the posters, but all attachments must fit within the poster dimensions.
      • One (1) standard-sized presentation display board not to exceed 36.5 inches by 48.5 inches.
      • One (1) desktop flip chart presentation easel 12 inches by 10 inches (dimensions of the page).
      • One (1) personal laptop computer.
      • Cell phones, smartphones, smartwatches, iPods/MP3 players, iPads/tablets or any type of a hand-held, information sharing device will be allowed in written events if applicable to the presentation.
      • Sound is allowed, as long as the volume is kept at a conversational level.
    18. Video may be shown during your oral presentation, but are not to be included with the project when it is turned in for Written Event Screening or during competition.
    19. Only visual aids that can be easily carried to the presentation by the actual participant will be permitted, and the participant himself/herself must set up the visuals. No set-up time will be allowed. Participant must furnish his/her own materials and equipment. No electrical power or Internet connection will be supplied.
    20. Students 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 students have one. But we caution that it could be difficult for students 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 to save anything that they might want to reference directly onto their computer.
    21. Material with no economic value and appropriate for the situation may be handed to or left with the judge.
    22. Participants may bring notes with them into the presentation.
    23. 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.
    24. 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
    25. Projects receiving less than 75 points will not advance on to the International Conference.

2021 Written Event Competition Overview:

Michigan DECA will follow the DECA Guidelines for all written events.  Due to the virtual nature of completion this year, some of the processes we use for the events have changed.  These changes are outlined below:

  1. The portal to upload written events will open on February 12, 2021, and close on February 16, 2021. Once all events have been uploaded to the judging portal by the chapter advisor, Michigan DECA staff will upload the projects to Turn-it-in.  Volunteers will penalty point the projects, and then Judges will evaluate the written portion.  The only events that do not have to be uploaded are the Chapter Awards Projects and School-Based Enterprise.  The Ethics Team Event must be uploaded between March 1 and March 5, 2021.  Additional information on that event will be in next week’s update.
  2. We prefer actual signatures on the Statement of Assurance, but because of remote learning, we will accept electronic signatures this year only. We will still penalize the project if a signature is missing.  This includes the chapter advisor’s signature.
  3. Judges that participate in the presentation portion of the competition on March 12, 2021, will have access to the complete written event that they will be judging. They will be instructed to review only the executive summary prior to evaluating the presentation.  They will not be evaluating the written portion of the project.
  4. Written Event participants will present using Doxy, the same platform that we used for District Conferences.
  5. Chapters will be provided the opportunity to reserve a day so they can practice using Doxy with their members. They will be able to reserve one day for every ten projects that they submit.  This sign up will open on February 17, 2021, for chapters to select a date between February 19, 2021, and March 5, 2021.
  6. Students will be able to show premade visuals for the written, consulting, and selling events. We recommend that the visuals are in a PowerPoint format. We have found that display boards are hard to view/read.
  7. After discussing the visuals with Judges that evaluated at the district competition in the selling and consulting events, we have the following recommendations. Please note that these are not requirements.
    1. The judges stated that they are more interested in seeing the students present their findings. The visuals are secondary.
    2. Too often, the students kept asking, “can you see this” when they had display boards, and that question interrupted the flow of their presentation.
    3. We recommend for the students open their presentation without any visuals, then incorporate a few visuals that support their work, then return to complete the presentation without any visuals.
    4. While it is no longer a requirement to allow time for questions from the judges, we recommend leaving a few minutes at the end for questions from the judges during this virtual competition. We often hear of judges scoring a bit lower when they are not afforded this opportunity.
  8. The time limits noted in the guidelines will be enforced by the Event Coordinator.

Student Procedures

  1. You will receive an email the afternoon before your presentation from Michigan DECA that provides a one-hour window of when you will login to compete.
  2. On the competition day, during your one-hour window, you will receive an email from the Event Coordinator that indicates that it is time for you to compete, and the link to the judging room.  You will have ten minutes to login to the competition prep-room.
  3. When you login, you will see your event information.
    • Written Event, Selling, and Consulting Event (FCE, HTPS, PSE) participants will wait in that room until they are called in to present to the judge.
    • Individual Series and Principle Event participants will have 10 minutes to review the case study.  After 10 minutes you will be called in to compete.
    • Team Event Participants will have 30 minutes to review the case. After 30 minutes you will be called in to compete.
    • Note: if competition becomes backed up, you may be waiting longer than your prep time allows.  If you have any questions, you can message the Event Coordinator or your Advisor.
  4. Because of social distancing requirements, team members should compete from their own home, unless they reside in the same household. Both members should log into the prep room when instructed to do so.   During the prep time, you should plan to communicate by using a phone, since you will not be able to do so when you are in the prep room.

Competition reminders

  1. Students should be dressed in business attire.
  2. You are not allowed to have assistance from anyone other than your team member(s) while in the prep room or when competing.
  3. The event will be presented to you through your reading of Performance Indicators and Event Situation. You may make notes to use during your presentation.
  4. Only for the 2020-21 year, your prep time is open book, you may use other materials or a second device during your prep time. These materials may not be shown during your presentation with the judge. You will be penalized 20 points if you show any materials prepared in advance, or for showing any devices or props to the judge (participants in Written, Selling, and Consulting Events are exempt from this rule).
  5. You will be responsible for supplying your own paper and pencil or pen with black or blue ink. No other colors of ink, wide markers, materials, props or pre-made visuals may be used (participants in Written, Selling, and Consulting Events are exempt from this rule).
  6. Because of the virtual format for the event, the judge may not be able to see any drawings that you create during your prep time. Please be prepared to describe them during your presentation with the judge(s).
  7. If you are participating from school – Turn in all your notes and event materials when you have completed the event to your chapter advisor.
  8. If you are participating from home – All your notes and event materials must be disposed of when you have completed the event.
  9. Participants competing from home must also complete the Judged Event Honor Code after you have competed.
  10. You may not discuss the event with anyone, until you receive your evaluation form back from your advisor.
  11. Please contact your chapter advisor if you have any questions on these procedures.
  12. You are to be congratulated for participating in this conference, we wish you well with your presentation to the judge.