As people gather together to celebrate the special occasions that mark the holiday season, I want to remind our supporters that another very special occasion is right around the corner—FIRE is turning ten in 2009! Some of you may find it hard to believe that FIRE has already reached its tenth anniversary, while others may be shocked to learn that we are such a young organization. But one thing remains certain—we have a lot of accomplishments to celebrate! Over the past nine years, a tiny startup organization armed with a mission and not much else has blossomed into a nationally recognized nonprofit with 15 full-time employees. We have achieved more than 135 victories defending wronged students and faculty members at our nation’s colleges and universities and we have provided aid and referrals to thousands more. We have even added another office, and now operate out of both Philadelphia and New York City. We enjoy regular coverage in national newspapers and on television and radio programs, and we are frequent speakers on campuses across the nation. Today, FIRE’s reputation demands respect from university administrators.
With all birthdays come opportunities for new growth and maturity. With every passing year, FIRE grows stronger, louder, and more effective—but this growth is only possible because of the consistent and generous support of our donors. In 2009, we want to commemorate our landmark tenth anniversary and celebrate our successes by thanking those who made them possible: our supporters, friends, and allies. To thank you, FIRE plans to host regional get-togethers to give our supporters the opportunity to meet one another, hear from FIRE staff, and join in the excitement of celebrating the past and looking forward to the future. We will also be hosting a Tenth Anniversary Celebration dinner in Manhattan next fall. Stay tuned for more details.
2009 will certainly be a year for celebration—but don’t worry about us partying too much. While we will be doing a lot of celebrating, we will also be doing more hard work than ever before.
In 2009, one of our major initiatives will be expanding and improving our Campus Freedom Network (CFN). The CFN is FIRE’s coalition of students and faculty from around the country dedicated to spreading the message of liberty on campuses at a grassroots level. Since it was introduced in 2006, the CFN has had an enormous impact on FIRE’s work, helping us to change campus culture from the inside out. What better way to relay FIRE’s message than by organizing the very people who are affected by illiberal and often unconstitutional school policies? We believe so strongly in the power of the CFN that we think it is essential to invest in growing it to its full potential. In fact, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff personally provided $25,000 to set up a matching gift fund for the Campus Freedom Network. With a membership that more than quadrupled in 2008, the CFN is growing exponentially—and with more resources, this coalition can become an even stronger and more effective force for freedom on campus.
So far, a handful of donors (including FIRE staff members) have donated towards Greg’s fund for a total of $5,000. This holiday season, I ask you to consider giving to the CFN Matching Gift Fund to bring us one step closer to reaching our goal of $25,000 and doubling the impact of Greg’s gift. Just let us know that you want your donation to help fund the CFN. FIRE co-founder Alan Charles Kors has said, "A nation that does not educate in liberty will not long preserve it and will not even know when it is lost." With your gift, you will make an investment not only in the CFN, but also in the future of our democracy.
Looking forward to 2009, I couldn’t help but take a moment to think back on 2008. Working with FIRE’s dedicated staff and interacting with our truly generous supporters, I feel blessed this holiday season to find myself in the company of such staunch advocates for liberty. For all that you, our supporters, have done over the past nine years, and for all that you will continue to do, we remain eternally grateful.
For those of you celebrating Christmas, have a merry Christmas Eve! To our other readers, enjoy this restful week and have a wonderful New Year.