Atlas Network, a D.C.-area nonprofit dedicated to advancing the cause of liberty, hosts the annual awards and culls the winning project from an international pool of contenders.
“Launched in 2012, FIRE’s Legislative and Policy Project confronts campus administrators, legislators, and federal agencies who stifle speech and violate student and faculty members’ rights,” Atlas said in a press release announcing the finalists’ selection.
“FIRE’s advocacy,” the group wrote, “has helped stem the tide of federal overreach and laid the groundwork for policies that protect the rights of students and professors to express themselves openly and without fear.”
Some of the project’s biggest accomplishments include passage of legislation in Missouri and Virginia banning the practice of using deceptively-named campus “free speech zones,” which restrict student expression to tiny, sometimes remote, areas of campus. The project also works to defend campus due process protections, including working to redraft language that would harm due process in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization and urging the passage of right-to-counsel bills in North Dakota and North Carolina.
As a finalist, FIRE’s Legislative and Policy Project receives a $25,000 finalist’s award and remains in contention for this year’s Templeton Freedom Award and its $100,000 grand prize.
Atlas, which has bestowed the honor annually since 2004, describes the criteria for selecting the winner as follows:
Named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton, the Templeton Freedom Award is a $100,000 prize that annually honors his legacy by identifying and recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation and human fulfillment via free competition.
Finalists and their projects must also have:
- Achieved strategic impact (in areas of policy impact, social impact, academic impact, media impact, or student impact, etc.)
- Made innovative contributions to the field of free enterprise education or policy research
- Laid the groundwork for future progress in improving countries’ scores in rankings of economic freedom (e.g., The Index of Economic Freedom or the Economic Freedom of the World report)
Other 2016 finalists include: the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, the Goldwater Institute, The Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress, and Sweden’s The Centre for Justice.
The winner will be announced at the Atlas Freedom Dinner 2016 on Thursday, November 10, at New York City’s Capitale.
FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors will give a toast to freedom.
Past winners include the Acton Institute’s documentary film, Poverty Inc. (2015), the Lithuanian Free Market Institute’s Municipal Performance Index for Freedom and Free Enterprise project (2014), and The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s 2020 Tax Commission and Single Income Tax report (2013).
FIRE is honored to be considered for this prestigious award.