The ACLU is offering 16 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, participating 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, recognize and support the efforts of graduating student activists.

High school seniors with at least a 3.0 GPA planning on entering an accredited college or university who have demonstrated a profound commitment to civil liberties through some form of social, political or artistic activism are eligible.

If you’re interested or know someone who may be a good candidate, they should 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.

The ACLU is also sponsoring 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. Contestants are encouraged to be creative and try to help define a new generation’s conception of what exactly constitutes basic 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

Last Thing: Writing about the ACLU reminds me to recommend watching a special video conversation between the group’s Executive Director Anthony Romero, the first Latino and openly gay head of the prominent organization, and Ava Lowery, a remarkable teenage antiwar activist. It’s episode three of the This Brave Nation series, a collaboration between The Nation and Brave New Films.