Free Speech Essay Contest

$500–$10,000Award Amount
9Number of Awards
12/31/2022Submission Deadline

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The Free Speech Essay Contest is an initiative by FIRE to sustain and defend individual rights at universities and colleges in America. These rights include freedom of speech, due process, religious liberty, legal equality, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity.

The competition is an avenue to promote freedom of speech among high school students. It also aims at educating young people on the benefits of freedom of speech and why it should be embraced by all.

The competition is also trying to build writing skills in high school students by motivating them with a huge first prize reward of $10,000.

Key Information of Free Speech Essay Contest

Study Details

Country of Study

United States

Specific Schools


Scholarship Details

Intended Level of Study


Award Amount


Number of Awards


Free Speech Essay Contest Timeline

September 2022

Application Open Date

Applications will open in September.

December 2022

Application Submission Deadline

Submissions close usually on December 31.

February 2023

Winners Announced

Winners will be announced on February 15.

Scholarship Eligibility

To be eligible to apply, applicants must meet the following criteria.

  • Eligible Grade: High School Junior – High School Senior
  • Maximum Age: Any
  • Required GPA: Any
  • Geographic Eligibility: United States
  • Gender: Any
  • Race/Ethnicity:

Application Requirements

Here’s what you need to submits besides your application.

  • Essay

How to ace the Free Speech Essay Contest


Understand the central idea of the scholarship

The competition is more than a scholarship, take time to understand the brief and write in line with it.


Take time to write convincing points

Try to be very persuasive and convincing in your essay. Remember your audience and be relatable to them in your piece.


Have your essay proofread by an expert

It will be a good idea for your teacher, mentor, or older siblings to check your essay for grammar and spelling errors. It must nail the brief.


Research enough information about the topic

Don't just jump into writing. You can source enough information to make clear-cut points while writing your essay. Research thoroughly the topic and ask experts from your community and/or school for further assistance.

How the Free Speech Essay Contest is Judged

Essays will be judged on how much justice is done to the central idea of the topic. Essays will be screened for a word count ranging from 700–900 words on the topic. Spellings, punctuation, and grammar are part of the screening process.

Why We Love the Free Speech Essay Contest


All about freedom of speech

This award is entirely dedicated to your rights and dignity. It encourages freedom of speech and expression and that’s motivational enough.


No GPA required for submission of entries

The scholarship has no GPA requirement for the submission of entries. Entries are welcome from all high school junior and senior students in the U.S.


It’s all about you

As this award is about rights and dignity, the room is wide open for all youngsters to participate in this competition regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

5 Facts About Free Speech Essay Contest


Up to four winning categories

The competition rewards nine students. The awarding body has winners in categories of one $10,000 first prize, one $5,000 second prize, three $1,000 third prizes, and four $500 prizes.


Free speech initiative across campuses

The awarding body targets campuses in the United States, where serious violations of free speech occur and where students are censored as a result.


FIRE has been operational since 1999

FIRE was founded in the year 1999 by Professor Alan Charles Kors from the University of Pennsylvania and Boston Civil Liberties Attorney Harvey Silverglate.


More than 1,000 cases addressed in 2021

Almost a total of 1,500 people submitted cases to FIRE in 2021 when their rights were in jeopardy. This shows the agency's commitment to fighting for human rights.


Advocating for people's rights

FIRE effectively and decisively defends the fundamental rights of tens of thousands of students and faculty members across U.S. campuses.

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