Students nationwide honored with $5,000 Scholarships for “Free to Tweet” salutes to the First Amendment

Press Release

March 16, 2012


March 15, 2012, Washington, D.C. – For sharing online how they enjoy exercising their First Amendment rights and joining in a national celebration of the First Amendment, 22 students from coast to coast will each receive $5,000 scholarships to continue their high school or college education.

Their entries were judged the best from a cascade of more than 17,000 tweets and messages sent on Dec. 15, 2011, the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, as part of “Free to Tweet.” Thousands of Americans participated in the public awareness campaign—organized by 1 for All and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation—recognizing First Amendment freedoms and putting a largely overlooked holiday back in the public eye.

“’Free to Tweet’ was an extraordinary success, tapping the creativity and insights of students nationwide, while giving teachers tools to help them share the First Amendment with a new generation,” said Ken Paulson, founder of 1 for All and president of the First Amendment Center and American Society of News Editors, organizations that organized and promoted “Free to Tweet.”


Students from ages 14 to 22 were eligible to receive $5,000 scholarships—$110,000 in total. The winners hail from 15 states, including Nicholas Creegan, of White Plains, N.Y. who won with his tweet: “Silence might be golden, but silence never got much done in a democracy. Speak now or don't complain later. #FreeToTweet”

Each winning message can be seen at @1forallus will tweet one an hour on March 16, the 261st birthday of Bill of Rights author James Madison.

“Free to Tweet” built on the findings of the 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. It found that as social media use grows among teens, so does appreciation for the First Amendment.

“We were energized to see so many young people contributing to a national conversation on how we interpret and appreciate our First Amendment freedoms in the digital age,” said Michael Maness, vice president of journalism and media innovation for Knight Foundation, which funded the campaign and scholarship contest. “We hope that tweeting about their First Amendment views leads to a life time of support for our essential freedoms.”

In conjunction with “Free to Tweet,” 1 for All and the Knight Foundation published Social Media, the Classroom and the First Amendment, a classroom guide for teachers that explores how social media shape young people’s sense of these freedoms and suggests ways to incorporate digital tools into instruction on the topic.

Until Dec. 15, 2011, Bill of Rights Day had gone largely unrecognized and forgotten. Proclaiming the date a national holiday in late November of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that 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, the United States entered World War II and the proclamation was largely forgotten.

Although students had the extra incentive of $5,000 scholarships to participate in “Free to Tweet,” thousands of other Americans nationwide reversed decades of inattention to this important holiday with their messages of support.

“Free to Tweet” scholarship entries were judged by a panel of First Amendment and journalism experts who support 1 for All, an unprecedented educational and public service campaign that builds understanding of the First Amendment and its five distinct freedoms: speech, press, religion, assembly and petition.

For more information on the ongoing 1 for All campaign, to join its mailing list, or learn more about upcoming programs, visit


The full list of winners, including their age and school at the time of the competition, is as follows:


Zach Alvarez, 19 of Chicago, Ill., and student at Wilbur Wright College

Marianne Brown, 18 of Arlington, Texas, and student at Arlington High School

Nicholas Creegan, 20 of White Plains, N.Y., and student at University at Albany

Brian DeConinck, 22 of Raleigh, N.C., and student at Northwestern University

Marie French, 20 of Springfield, Va., and student at University of Missouri at Columbia

Jessi Glueck, 16 of Leawood, Kan., and student at Blue Valley North High School

Andrew Grojean, 21 of Blue Springs, Mo., and student at Truman State University

Katrina Hess, 17 of West Haven, Utah, and student at Roy High School

Abigail Hoffman, 18 of Marina, Calif., and student at University of California, Berkeley

Tierra Jasmyne Hull, 16 of Alexandria, Va., and student at Hayfield Secondary School

Ja'Mal Terron Lewis, 21 of Atlanta, Ga., and student at Morehouse College

Meghan Pearce, 18 of Westerville, Ohio, and student at Westerville North High School

Nico Perrino, 21 of Elmhurst, Ill., and student at Indiana University

Azur Priode, 17 of Knoxville, Tenn., and student at Bearden High School

Mackenzie Robert, 19 of Bedford, N.H., and student at Belmont University

Molly Roberts, 16 of Ventura, Calif., and student at Foothill Technology High School

Jonmichael Samsel, 17 of Morristown, Tenn., and student at Morristown Hamblen High School East

Miracle Stewart, 16 of Louisville, Ky., and student at DuPont Manual High School

Ely Sussman, 19 of New Rochelle, N.Y., and student at University of Miami

Aysen Tan, 15 of Ventura, Calif., and student at Foothill Technology High School

Kenny Tan, 18 of Brooklyn, N.Y., and student at Vanderbilt University

Jenna Williams, 17 of Yardley, Pa., and student at Pennsbury High School


About 1 for All

1 for All is a non-partisan, educational campaign that was launched in 2010 to address a general lack of awareness by the American public about the five freedoms afforded by the First Amendment. Initial support for campaign was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Newseum, McCormick Foundation, American Society of News Editors, First Amendment Center and Gannett Foundation. In addition, more than 1,000 news organizations, religious groups and educational institutions have devoted their time and resources in support of the 1 for All campaign.


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. More information at

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Media Contact:

Nate West

Seigenthaler Public Relations

(615) 327-7999

[email protected]