Free Spirit Scholarship in Journalism
The Free Spirit Scholarship in Journalism began in 1999 and was setup by Al Neuharth the founder of the USA Today newspaper and Newseum which is a museum about news and journalism and the Freedom Forum foundation in Washington DC, USA which champions the US First Amendment as a cornerstone of democracy.
The scholarship is actually part of the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference which takes place every year, this conference is for school students to attend, the conference invites distinguished speakers like Pulitzer Prize winning journalists and well known news anchors to come and talk to students about their experience, the students attending the conference must write two essays the first essay should be about why they want to pursue a career in journalism and the second essay should be about why they are a free spirit.
The reason being a free spirit is so important as part of this conference is because the words are taken from the US First Amendment to the constitution which states free press, free speech and free spirit, whilst free press means the ability of journalists to report on news without interference from government, business or any other body and free speech means the ability of citizens to speak out without fear of persecution and free spirit which is taken to mean the ability for a citizen to do what they want within the confines of the law, to take risks, to be a visionary leader, to make things happen either on a community level, nationwide or worldwide and it's this sprit that Al Neuharth wanted to encourage when he created the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference.
Submit Two Essays
Students submit their two essays to the conference organisers (Freedom Forum) and then one student from every state in the USA (all fifty states) is selected to attend the conference, students that attend the conference are then eligible for the Free Spirit Scholarship in Journalism where two students are selected for the scholarship, one male student and one female student who will both be awarded $10,000 as a scholarship, the scholarship is not renewable and is awarded as a single sum to use to pay for your college or university fee's.
As well as the top two students attending the conference receiving $10,000 as a scholarship, one hundred smaller scholarship awards of $1,000 each are also made available to the best students, the smaller scholarship award is not only drawn from the students who attend the conference but also from the students who apply to the conference but are not asked to attend, so even if you do not get to attend the conference there is still a very good chance that you might receive a small scholarship award.
Students worrying that they don't have sufficient funds to travel to Washington DC, USA will be pleased to know that all overland travel costs are paid for as is the hotel for the student journalists to stay in while they attend the conference (the conference is for multiple days), notice that only overland travel expenses will be paid for by the conference and not air or sea travel, the conference is also only open to students resident in all fifty US states, because one student from each state will be selected to attend the conference and have a chance of winning the $10,000 scholarship, the conference and therefore scholarship are only open to US citizens, international students looking to study abroad should consider the Bill Gates scholarship or Fulbright scholarship.
Free Spirit Conference and Scholarship
Students applying to the conference will need to include the completed application, samples of journalistic work like newspaper cuttings, website articles etc, two essays with the first on why the student wants to be a journalist and have a career in journalism and the second essay on how the student is a free spirit in relation to the US constitution's first amendment and the use of free spirit to describe someone who is a leader, doing new things, changing conceived thinking or changing the community or the world. The student will also need to submit a letter of reference this should be from your school or other institution that can describe not only your academic achievements but also your journalistic achievements, the letter of reference should be on the institutions official letterhead.
Students applying for the conference will also need to include their latest high school transcript and a colour photograph (headshot) of the student, all these items are required for the application to be complete, incomplete applications will not be considered for either the conference or the scholarship. It has to be noted that students are applying for the right to attend the conference, those selected to attend the conference then have the change to be selected to win the $10,000 scholarship, if you have not attended the conference then you will not be one of the students from which the conference organisers can select the scholarship winners, however the smaller $1,000 scholarships of which there are one hundred available can be won by students who have not attended the conference (only fifty students are invited to attend the conference and there are one hundred $1,000 scholarships available so the conference organisers also select scholarship winners from those who have applied for the conference but not been accepted to attend).
Interestingly because all fifty states can apply and one student from each state is selected there are occasions when the conference has not received enough high quality entrants from all states and so have extended the application deadline to allow more students to apply, what this tells us is that for certain states there is a very good chance of being selected to attend the conference because completion is a lot lower for some states than others, you can for example imagine that competition from students in New York or California is higher than less densely populated areas so if you are from a state with a smaller population or schools that are less likely to encourage journalism then you have a very good chance of being selected for the conference should you apply.
High School Journalists
As high school students are applying for the conference and therefore scholarship, students will be interested to know that there is no need to send in SAT Scholastic Aptitude Test or ACT American College Test results because students applying for the conference have not yet sat their SAT or ACT tests, if for some reason the student has sat these tests early then of course the results of ACT or SAT tests should be included with the application.
Students applying for the conference need to submit samples of their journalism this may be from a publication or from school, the samples can include press cuttings, writing, photography, video or any other media that shows the students journalistic talents. The conference and scholarship application will be unsuccessful if no samples of journalism are included with the application. Students can download the application from the Newseum Institute website and print the application out and mail it in with the essay samples, photograph, transcript and samples of journalism. Students will then be notified by the Free Spirit Conference by mail, in the envelope sent to the student will be a letter asking the student to sign and send back to the conference to confirm their acceptance of their place.
Students who have been selected to attend the conference and compete for the scholarship will not have to pay any costs for travel to Washington DC or for meals or hotels as the Free Spirit conference will pay all costs, the student does not have to pay for anything in advance and then claim the money back from the conference as the Free Spirit conference pay all costs beforehand.
Sponsored by Newseum and the Freedom Forum
The conference actually takes place at the Newseum, the museum for news and journalism started by the founder of the Free Spirit conference and scholarship Al Neuharth (who also founded the USA Today newspaper) and was an ardent supporter of free speech and a free spirit. If you receive a letter from the Free Spirit conference telling you that you have won a place your also receive details of the hotel bookings and travel arrangements that will be made for you, the Free Spirit conference use the services of the Close Up Foundation who have arranged academic trips to Washington DC for over thirty years, so your travel and accommodation plans will be in good hands.
Students selected to attend the conference will visit newsrooms, tour Washington DC, meet and speak to distinguished journalists and be motivated by what they hear and see, for this reason its thought vitality important that only students who have attended the conference can win the $10,000 scholarship prize.
Students applying for the conference and scholarship must be either US citizens or permanent US residents, students from other countries are not eligible for either the conference or the scholarship, winning a scholarship from the Free Spirit conference does not preclude the student from applying for a Pell grant, the federal grant that all students are able to apply for by law, the Pell grant will take into account the amount of any other scholarship awards you have won and reduce your Pell grant by this amount, but winning the Free Spirit scholarship will not leave the student any worse off as the Pell grant will make up the difference.
Free Spirit Journalism
The Freedom Forum who run the Free Spirit conference and award the Free Spirit scholarships handle the conference (and scholarship) application form, this is an online form which you can't save and must complete in one sitting, however supporting documentation can be mailed in through the post. The Free Spirit conference is designed to inspire free spirited students to continue their media careers, note that the Free Spirit Forum use media in its widest sense because journalism is more than just about writing a newspaper column, journalism can take many forms from being a YouTube journalist to writing a news blog, publishing for well known newspapers and news publications or for the school paper, the material you submit with your application can be in many forms from newspaper cuttings to links to online videos.
Writing an essay about being a free spirit is probably something students have not had to do before so a little more background may help, the Freedom Forum regard a free spirit as someone possessing some or all of the following characteristics creativity, courage, risk taking, perseverance, innovative thinking or accomplishing something extraordinary, so you should now have some ideas for your essay which should be at least five hundred words in length.
The online application for the Free Spirit conference and scholarship has the option to upload some types of document, so it may be possible to scan transcripts, essays and other supporting documentation and directly attach them to your online application, if this is not possible or you would rather not upload the supporting documentation you can post the supporting documentation to the Freedom Foundations mail address. The Freedom Foundation accept applications from all students regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin, of course you must be a US citizen or permanent resident of the US to be eligible to apply.
Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference
Whilst known as the Free Spirit conference or Free Spirit scholarship that's not actually the proper name of the conference and scholarship which is the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference and the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Scholarship. Students applying for the Free Spirit conference and scholarship will need to want to pursue journalism as a career, at the conference your meet with distinguished journalists who will inspire you to go onto further study using your scholarship to gain a degree in journalism, with specific samples of your journalism needed your need to be an active journalist to be able to supply the sample documentation to the Freedom Forum (the organisers of the Free Spirit conference and scholarship).
US high school, students looking to study journalism at university should apply for this conference and scholarship programme, the conference will inspire you to continue your career in journalism and the scholarship will enable you to pay for your chosen degree in journalism.