Free Expression Advocacy Institute DC – Summer 2022

PEN America’s summer 2022 Free Expression Advocacy Institute in Washington DC is an intensive, in-person, five-day, educational and training program where high school students can learn the theories, laws, histories, and methodologies behind free expression advocacy. Offered Monday through Friday, August 1-5, 9 am – 4:30 pm, the daily schedule will include presentations led by expert legal and policy practitioners from PEN America, interactive workshops designed to teach tangible skills, field trips to relevant sites around the city, and TA-facilitated discussion sessions and activities to dive deeper into the issues with their peers. Participants will cap their experiences by working on a variety of advocacy projects and entering creative contests over the course of the Institute to compete for prizes and awards in the final closing session of the program. Students who successfully complete the program will also be granted a certificate of professional achievement in free expression advocacy from PEN America.

*PEN America offers financial aid and tuition waivers for any student that expresses need.

students holding protest rally sign for Ukraine

*Will Be Held In Person*
Dates: Monday – Friday, August 1-5, 2022
Time: 9 am – 4:30pm
Cost: $500
Financial aid available


Location: Bard High School Washington DC Campus
4430 H St SE, Washington, DC 20019


Admissions and financial aid will be decided on a rolling basis. The final deadline to have your application considered is Thursday, July 28 at 11:59 p.m. If you have any questions, please email



Niko Perez teaching a seminar at UTK


Topics Covered in Our Program: 

The First Amendment and its Limitations, Counter-Speech and Combating Hate, Freedom of the Press and the Local News Crisis, Media Literacy and Free Speech Online, Protest Rights and the Freedom of Assembly, Academic Freedom and Free Speech in Schools, Artistic Freedom Around the World, Pro Tips for Advocacy Campaigning, Free Speech and Mass Incarceration, Prisoners of Conscience Around the World, and more!


Advocacy Projects and Creative Contests

Throughout the program, students will have options to work on various advocacy projects and creative contests themed around domestic and international free expression issues. Projects will range from designing public advocacy campaign slideshows, writing opinion editorials, and engaging in speech-writing, to creative writing and artistic options. Student projects will require submission by Thursday evening August 4, with awards and prizes being announced in the closing session at the end of the program Friday, August 5.


Our Staff




Nicholas Perez headshot

Program Manager for Free Expression and Education at PEN America, Perez is a former United Nations consultant and instructor of international affairs, human rights, and Model U.N.




headshot of Kristen Shahverdian

Program Manager for Free Expression and Education at PEN America, Shahverdian is an experienced lecturer and workshop facilitator in dance, history, and the arts.




Peris Tushabe headshot

Program Assistant for Free Expression and Education at PEN America, Tushabe is a graduate of Skidmore College in political science, born and raised in Uganda, interested in the roles of youth movements in democracy.




Leila Markosian headshotProgram Assistant for Free Expression and Education at PEN America, Markosian is a graduate of Middlebury College in comparative literature interested in the relationship between identity, platforms, and power.

Instructors from PEN America



Farid Johnson

Nadine Farid Johnson headshot

Washington Director




headshot of Jeremy Young

Senior Manager for Free Expression and Education




Caits Meissner headshot

Director of Prison and Justice Writing




Anjali Emsellem headshotPrison and Justice Writing Program Assistant

Special Guests




Rikki Nathanson headshot

Senior Advisor, Global Trans Program, OutRight Action International


Mary Beth


photo of Mary Beth Tinker

Nurse, Teen & Children’s Rights Advocate, Civics Instructor, Public Speaker, Plaintiff 1969 Supreme Court Case Tinker v Des Moines




headshot of Bukeni Waruzi

Executive Director, Free the Slaves





Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work


sanchez kenneally

rachel sanchez kenneally headshotNational Donor Liaison and Coordination Officer, International Organization on Migration – UN Migration

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