Mission | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

FIRE's Mission

FIRE defends and promotes the value of free speech for all Americans in our courtrooms, on our campuses, and in our culture.

Independence Hall Philadelphia, PA

FIRE’s mission is to defend and sustain the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought—the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates Americans about the importance of these inalienable rights, promotes a culture of respect for these rights, and provides the means to preserve them.

FIRE recognizes that colleges and universities play a vital role in preserving free thought within a free society. To this end, we place a special emphasis on defending the individual rights of students and faculty members on our nation’s campuses, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental American freedom and human right. It is essential for democracy, scientific progress, artistic expression, social justice, peace, and our ability to live as authentic individuals. 

Yet, across our nation, this cornerstone of our free society is under serious threat. Far too many of us fear sharing our views or challenging those that seem to dominate. Nearly 6-in-10 Americans believe our nation’s democracy is threatened because people are afraid to voice their opinions. 

FIRE therefore defends and promotes the value of free speech for all Americans in our courtrooms, on our campuses, and in our culture. Our vision is an America in which people overwhelmingly believe in the right of others to freely express views different from their own, and expect their laws and educational institutions to reflect and teach this belief.

Founded in 1999 as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, for over 20 years FIRE has worked to advance the cause of free speech and the values of the First Amendment on our nation’s college and university campuses. We have done so through our commitments to sincere nonpartisanship, courageous advocacy, and an enduring belief in free speech as a force for good. 

In 2022, FIRE changed its name to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression to reflect its broader effort to protect and promote these values off campus, as well. 

FIRE pursues its charitable mission to preserve free expression’s foundational place in American democracy and culture as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FIRE are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.