2022 Think Tank Shark Tank contestants announced

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Every year, Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner features the Think Tank Shark Tank competition, where contestants deliver a five-minute pitch of their project to a panel of judges who then have the opportunity to ask questions for further information or clarification. The 2022 Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner in New York will feature three contestants from three continents. The winner will walk away with US$25,000 to use toward making their project a reality. This year Luis Fernando Sanabria (Fundación Paraguaya, Paraguay), Jessi Troyan (Cardinal Institute, West Virginia), and Sebastian Stodolak (Warsaw Enterprise Institute, Poland) will pitch their projects at Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner.

Luis Fernando Sanabria (Fundación Paraguaya, Paraguay)

Poverty alleviation programs often take a paternalistic approach, stripping the people they aim to help of their dignity and control over their own destinies. The Poverty Stoplight method, proven in nearly 50 countries, eschews paternalism in favor of giving individuals the power to shape their own path out of poverty. This approach breaks down the complex problem of poverty into manageable and understandable pieces—such as income, health, housing, etc.—and asks families to define for themselves which of those problems are most important to solve. This has the added benefit of providing data on the specific factors aggravating poverty for a given population. At Think Tank Shark Tank, Luis Fernando Sanabria will pitch his plan to implement Poverty Stoplight in Paraguay, where Fundación Paraguaya staff will work directly with families in the Qom tribe to implement Poverty Stoplight. This project aims to help about 1,200 people in their journey out of poverty.

Jessi Troyan (Cardinal Institute, West Virginia)

In the United States, many government programs intended to help the poor have built-in “benefit cliffs” which make it more difficult for individuals to escape poverty. By effectively punishing people for making more money or otherwise improving their situation by stripping them of their benefits, these cliffs exacerbate cyclical poverty. Jessi Troyan will pitch The Dignity Project by Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy, which will examine government programs from top to bottom to identify benefit cliffs and develop policy solutions. Their planned media campaign will educate West Virginia voters about this issue and build popular support for reform. Cardinal Institute will also work closely with legislators to help them understand the issue and how their solutions will benefit families and communities across the state.

Sebastian Stodolak (Warsaw Enterprise Institute, Poland)

Pretrial detention of those accused of a crime is intended to be used sparingly and only in serious cases. However, in central Europe, and especially in Poland, this tool has been abused by the justice system, destroying many people’s lives before they have even been convicted of a crime. The average stay behind bars for a pretrial detainee in Poland is eight months—more than enough time to disrupt careers and familial and social connections. The problem is worsening as well. The share of the prison population represented by pretrial detainees has been rising since 2016—up to 14% in 2021. At Think Tank Shark Tank, Sabastian Stodolak will pitch his “No Trial—No Prison” plan to reform the justice system. Their work on this topic has helped educate Poles on the extent of the problem and presented their research to the minister of justice, and the ombudsman has expressed support for their ongoing efforts.

Join us at Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner on November 16–17 to see the pitch competition live, or follow us on social media to find out the winner!