The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Nov 21, 2012

Students can win scholarships with #FreeToTweet

Posted by Jenna Buehler

Starting Dec. 1, the #FreetoTweet campaign will again ask students to celebrate their First Amendment rights with a tweet. The best tweets that honor freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition - one from each of those categories - will have a shot at one of five scholarships. All entries must use the #FreeToTweet hashtag and be submitted by Dec. 15.

Launched in 2011 by the First Amendment Center and Knight Foundation, the “Free to Tweet” campaign sparked a frenzy of pride. More than 17,000 tweets were submitted in a single day, including a tweet of support from the White House and artists Ke$ha, Blake Shelton, Wynonna Judd, Heart and Brad Paisley.

The contest grew out of a Knight Foundation study, “Future of the First Amendment,” which looked at the role social media plays in shaping young people’s sense of First Amendment principles.

“Today’s high school and college students are tomorrow’s defenders of the First Amendment. We hope this campaign engages them in learning more about the basic freedoms we often take for granted,” said Michael Maness, vice president of journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation.

Need some inspiration? Here’s a sampling of the 2011 winners:

Silence might be golden, but silence never got much done in a democracy. Speak now or don’t complain later. – Nicholas Creegan, 20, White Plains, N.Y.

140 characters may not be enough to change the world, but the First Amendment did it in 272. – Brian DeConinck, 22, Raleigh, N.C.

The 45 words remain the same, but they’ve certainly caused a lot of change. – Abigail Hoffman, 18, Marina, Calif.

Imagine a world where MLK never had a dream, Dylan’s answers were never blowing in the wind, and Ida B. Wells never had a vote. – Nico Perrino, 21, Elmhurst, Ill.

Though students between the ages of 14 and 22 are eligible for the scholarship, “Free to Tweet” encourages all Americans to tweet their support. This year, the contest is being expanded to two weeks, beginning Dec. 1 and ending the night of Dec. 15. Find out more at or by following @FreeToTweet2012.

By Jenna Buehler, executive assistant/communications at Knight Foundation

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