By Peter Rothberg

The ACLU is generously offering 16 of the nation’s most committed, young civil liberties activists $12,500 each toward their first year in college. The winners will become part of a special class of scholar-activists who will be invited to participate in ongoing activities with the ACLU, including activist trainings, strategy sessions and public events. Since 2000, the venerable civil liberties organization has awarded scholarships annually to honor and recognize the efforts of graduating student activists.

To qualify, you must be a high school senior planning on entering an accredited college or university as a full-time, degree-seeking student with at least a 3.0 GPA who has demonstrated a profound commitment to civil liberties through some form of social, political or artistic activism.

If you’re interested or know someone who may be a good candidate, please have them contact their local ACLU affiliate and ask for the Youth Scholarship Coordinator. This person will detail the application process, help you assess the strength of your candidacy and then send you scholarship application forms. The deadline for applying is December 5, 2008.

Check out info on last year’s winners and click here for info on this year’s contest.

Today, the ACLU also announced a YouTube video contest for young human rights activists. Contestants between the ages of 16 and 23 years old are asked to submit an original short video about an article in the United Declaration of Human Rights. The winner of the contest will receive round-trip airfare and lodging in New York City to accompany a delegation from the ACLU to the December 10, 2008, session of the United Nations General Assembly. On that day, the assembly will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UDHR. Check out instructions on how to enter at