FIRE announces $75 million expansion into off-campus free speech advocacy, defense

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FIRE announces $75 million expansion into off-campus free speech advocacy, defense

Launches $10 million nationwide free speech advertising campaign
FIRE expansion

PHILADELPHIA, June 6, 2022 — Today, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education becomes the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

America’s leading defender of free speech, due process, and academic freedom in higher education is expanding its free speech mission beyond campus. The $75 million expansion initiative will focus on three main areas of programming: litigation, public education, and research.

“America needs a new nonpartisan defender of free speech that will advocate unapologetically for this fundamental human right in both the court of law and the court of public opinion,” said FIRE President & CEO Greg Lukianoff. “FIRE has a proven track record of defeating censorship on campus. We are excited to now bring that same tireless advocacy to fighting censorship off campus.”

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As part of its expansion initiative, FIRE is also launching a $10 million nationwide advertising campaign to promote a culture of free expression. The campaign, Faces of Free Speech, launches today and will last throughout the remainder of 2022. The campaign will initially reach Americans through robust national cable television, digital, and billboard advertising. Billboards will be featured across the following 15 cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Des Moines
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • New York City (Times Square)
  • Orlando
  • San Francisco
  • Tallahassee
  • Tampa
  • Washington, D.C.
Faces of Free Speech

READ MORE ABOUT FIRE'S CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE A CULTURE OF FREE EXPRESSION

FIRE will celebrate its next chapter on April 18, 2023 during a gala celebration in New York City. In the meantime, the organization is:

  • Seeking off-campus free speech legal case submissions. Americans who believe their free speech rights were violated can submit their case to FIRE at thefire.org/alarm.
  • Hiring additional staff in support of its current and expanded mission. FIRE currently has 14 open positions. Principled free speech advocates can apply at thefire.org/jobs.
  • Welcoming new members who care about free speech and would like to join America’s free speech movement. Become a FIRE Member today by making a $25 donation at thefire.org/donate. All new members will receive a FIRE T-shirt.

Over its 23 years of advocacy, FIRE has won more than 500 direct advocacy victories on behalf of college students and faculty members (with thousands more resolved behind-the-scenes), secured 425 campus policy changes affecting 5 million students, helped pass rights-protective legislation in 20 states, and drove a nationwide reduction in the prevalence of the most restrictive kinds of campus speech codes, from 75% in 2007 to 18% today. 

Defending individual rights in higher education remains one of FIRE’s core competencies. 

“Our defense of freedom of speech and inquiry on campus will remain core to what we do and will grow in the coming years,” said Lukianoff. “But we have come to realize that defending the First Amendment and a culture of free speech off-campus is essential to protecting those values on-campus, just as much as fighting for those values on-campus is essential for preserving them off-campus.”

“We need to remind older Americans that freedom of speech is still a value worth fighting for, and we need to teach younger Americans that everything from scientific progress, to artistic expression, to social justice, peace, and living authentic lives requires the staunch protection of freedom of speech for all.”

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The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s (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.

CONTACT:

Katie Kortepeter, Media Relations Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473; media@thefire.org

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