EmPower Silicon Valley Short-Film Competition

Our climate is changing and our communities are responding. By working together, we can make our region a better place to live for everyone. We need your stories and ideas to energize positive change.

Share Your Community Solutions to Climate Change

Create a short-film to compete for $20k in total awards! No prior climate change knowledge or film experience needed.

SVCE invites high school students to share your stories by June 14, 2021. To receive updates about the competition, please complete the Interest Form

See below for more information and email questions to  vanessa.shin@svcleanenergy.org.

Images of student recording while playing guitar, two students discussing and wearing masks, and a virtual meeting of teens
Image of neighbors sitting on park bench and youth riding a bicycle at sunset

Ready to create your short-film?

Check out the Virtual Orientation for the information you’ll need to get started, including an introduction to climate resilience and youth action. You’ll also receive important details about the competition and tips for creating your short-film.

How to Participate in EmPower Silicon Valley


Sign Up



  • Follow these instructions on submitting your short-film
  • The deadline to participate is June 14, 2021

Rules and Guidelines

Competition Rules

  • May participate as an individual or as part of a team of up to four total participants
  • Competition activities must abide by all local, state, and federal public health guidelines
  • Register for the competition and submit the EmPower Silicon Valley Competition Application


  • Must be currently enrolled in high school
  • Must live in a household/residence that receives electric service from SVCE or attend a school in Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, or unincorporated Santa Clara County communities

Short-Film Guidelines

  • Must be less than 4 minutes long
  • Submission is in a digital format (live action or animated)
  • Does not include copyrighted images, video, or music
  • All individuals appearing in your short-film must sign the EmPower Silicon Valley Release Waiver

What Should My Film Be About?

Communities in Silicon Valley are already experiencing the impacts of climate change. However, as renowned socio-ecologist Carl Folke describes, “In a resilient community, disturbance has the potential to create opportunity for doing new things, for innovation, and for development.”

How can combating climate change and preparing for its impacts strengthen your community? Develop a short-film that shows what it means to be climate resilient in your life and/or community.


What is a community?

We can think about community as the set of shared experiences and relationships between people. A community may form through a location or place, such as a neighborhood, city, or school. It can also be based on a shared characteristic, such as culture, religion, or a common interest. Through communities, people can support one another and work towards common goals.

How can a community build resilience to climate change?

A climate-resilient community supports the wellbeing and health of its members, addressing their challenges ranging from everyday difficulties to extreme events. When a major disruption occurs, such as a natural disaster, a resilient community recovers and adapts to change faster than a community that is not prepared to withstand these stresses. Members of a climate-resilient community develop creative ways to take care of one another, respond to challenges together, and improve the quality of life for all members.

A climate-resilient community is built upon strong relationships that foster trust, cooperation, and a sense of belonging. A strong network of relationships can help members access resources and offer support to those who are vulnerable. Through being well-connected, members can share and receive information that is easy to understand, inclusive, and culturally relevant. Additionally, local knowledge and education build resilience within a community and empower members to respond positively. Members who understand the challenges and opportunities in their community can collectively identify problems, make decisions, and work towards solutions. Another notable element of climate-resilient communities is preparedness. Leveraging their relationships and social support systems, resilient communities proactively develop responses to the current and future impacts of climate change.

Reflection Questions

  • Many of us participate in multiple communities. What communities do you identify with?
  • What are some of the strengths of my communities?
  • What are some climate-related challenges that my communities face?
  • What impacts of climate change have I experienced?
  • How do I support members of my community through these challenges?

Ready to Share Your Short-Film?

EmPower Silicon Valley will accept submissions until June 14, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Follow the steps below to enter the competition.

Prepare Release Waivers

  • If your short-film includes the audio and video of people who are not on your team, these individuals must sign the EmPower Silicon Valley Release Waiver
  • Have the Waiver ready to upload when you submit your short-film

Upload Your Short-Film

Retrieve the Link to Your Short-Film

Complete the Submission Form

  • Send the link to your short-film using the Submission Form
    • You will receive the Submission Form after registering for the competition
  • Complete one form per team

Scholarship Awards

A panel of judges will award a total of $20,000 in scholarship funds across four award categories and four honorable mentions. Award amounts will be divided equally between team members.

Climate Impact Award ($3,000): Best short-film depicting solution that is likely to have a high impact in building climate resilience in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Resilience Innovation Award ($3,000): Best short-film showing an innovative approach to resilience.

Creative Presentation Award ($3,000): Best short-film incorporating creative storytelling and approach to communicating a solution.

Community Enthusiasm Award ($3,000): Best short-film that showcases widespread and meaningful participation from the community.

Honorable Mention Award (Four at $2,000): These short-films demonstrate strong climate resilience solutions and/or creative communications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What criteria will be used to judge my short-film?

Your short-film will be scored based on the following criteria:

  • How well the short-film addresses the prompt
  • How clearly and creatively your short-film presents a solution
  • Extra points will be given for solutions that can be implemented widely and receive broad community support.

The technical quality of your submission will not be judged. In other words, fancy cameras and editing software are not necessary to produce a great short-film.

Short-films that use copyrighted media without permission and/or attribution will be disqualified.

Can my short-film include languages other than English?

Yes! Please add subtitles in English so that the English-speaking judging committee and audiences can fully enjoy your short-film. You can add closed captioning when you upload your submission to a video platform (YouTube Guide).

What types of video approaches should I use?

You are encouraged to explore different approaches to telling your story. Examples of acceptable video formats include:

  • Live action
  • Animation
  • Stop-motion film
  • Music video

When will the winners be announced?

Award winners will be notified by email by July 2021. The award-winning submissions will be posted to the EmPower Silicon Valley website.

Can I use copyrighted material in my short-film if I properly cite it?

If you do not own the image, video, or audio, you must obtain permission from the owner or creator of the media to use it in your film. Unfortunately, you cannot use copyrighted music without receiving permission first.

However, you do not need to ask for permission to use media in the Public Domain. Additionally, you may be able to use media with a Creative Commons license. We recommend checking out this guide with information on finding and properly attributing Public Domain and Creative Commons material for your short-film.

Get Inspired

Check out these opportunities to learn more about regional sustainability, youth climate action, and developing a short-film.

Virtual Events

Youth Climate Action and Art

Film Resources