Turn Bill of Rights Day Into $5,000 for College

Use Twitter to honor your freedom of speech on December 15 for a chance at a scholarship.

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Are you an ardent advocate for free speech? Do you have something to say about Americans' freedom of self-expression—including freedom of the press, religion, assembly, and petition? Can you imagine what life would be like in the United States without these freedoms?

Today, December 15 (also known as Bill of Rights Day), tweeting your thoughts about our Bill of Rights puts you in the running to earn a $5,000 scholarship.

[Learn more about turning tech savvy into college scholarships.]

During this daylong, online celebration of America's Bill of Rights, high school and college students between the ages of 14 and 22 will have the opportunity to earn one of 22 $5,000 scholarships being awarded through the First Amendment Center's "Free to Tweet" competition.

The initiative is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and organized by 1 for All, a national nonpartisan program designed to build understanding and support for First Amendment freedoms. "Free to Tweet" is an educational and public service campaign to build greater understanding of the First Amendment and its five distinct freedoms: speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition.

[Get tips about how to pay for college.]

Michael Maness, vice president of journalism and media innovation for the Knight Foundation, says that it matters what young people say about the First Amendment "because each generation re-interprets these fundamental rights, often using the latest tools and technologies. Today's high school and college students are tomorrow's defenders of the First Amendment and all the other freedoms set forth in the Bill of Rights."

Students can enter the scholarship competition by tweeting a message of support for the First Amendment, using the hashtag #freetotweet. The tweet can be self-contained or link to original content on a website or other social media platform. Students may send multiple messages, but each one must be a unique and original creation by the submitter.

[Read about five unique uses of Twitter in the classroom.]

If E-mail is more your style, you may send your entry to freetotweet@1forAll.us; just make sure your subject line indicates "Free to Tweet Contest Entry."

A panel of educators and First Amendment experts will review the entries and award the 22 scholarships, one for every decade since the ratification of the Bill of Rights. (See the judging criteria and complete rules.)

"In embracing these fundamental freedoms in 1791, we set ourselves apart from all other nations on the planet—then and ever since. It is one of the most important days in American history," says Ken Paulson, a founder of the 1 for All campaign and president of the American Society of News Editors.

Be heard today. Our nation's future depends on it.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Janine Fugate joined Scholarship America in 2002. She is an alumna of the College of Saint Benedict, Saint Joseph, Minn., and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Affairs at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Fugate is the recipient of numerous scholarships at both the undergraduate and graduate level.