Free to Tweet contest


During a 15-day online celebration of First Amendment rights, Dec. 1-15, high school and college students nationwide can win one of five $5,000 scholarships through the "Free to Tweet" competition.

The initiative is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and organized by 1 for All, an educational and public service campaign that builds understanding of the First Amendment and its five distinct freedoms: speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. The American Society of News Editors is one of the founding partners in the 1 for All campaign.

"Our 'Free to Tweet' competition in 2011 was an unprecedented celebration of the First Amendment, marrying emerging media to traditional American values," said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center and founder of the campaign. "This year, we're encouraging students nationwide to think about our most fundamental liberties and tweet about the First Amendment freedom that means the most to them."

Last year's campaign received more than 17,000 submissions in one day, including a tweet of support from the White House. The "Free to Tweet" campaign is supported by artists such as Ke$ha, Blake Shelton, Wynonna Judd, Heart, Brad Paisley and many others.

All Americans are urged to join the online celebration by tweeting their support for the First Amendment and help reinvigorate the often-overlooked Bill of Rights Day. In late November of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Dec. 15 a national holiday on the 150th anniversary of the amendments' adoption, declaring Americans "will not, under any threat ... surrender the guarantee of liberty our forefathers framed for us in our Bill of Rights." Just days later, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States entered World War II. The holiday declaration was largely forgotten.

Students can enter the scholarship competition by tweeting a message of support -- using the hashtag #FreeToTweet -- for the First Amendment. A panel of educators and First Amendment experts will review the entries and award the scholarships. Judging criteria and complete rules can be found at Updates on the event can be followed on Twitter at @FreeToTweet2012.

Media contact:
Ken Paulson
First Amendment Center