Free Societies

2023 Smart Bets Weekly Highlight: Atlas Network Partners in the United States


Each year, as part of Atlas Network’s Smart Bets program, we select ten high-achieving partner organizations that represent the freedom movement’s established and up-and-coming stars from around the world. These organizations are given a game-changing opportunity to make even more profound advancements in their work within the Smart Bets class. Membership provides partners with additional grant funding, access to collaborative meetings and consultations with the Atlas Network team and other Smart Bets organizations, and networking engagements with prospective donors. The pinnacle of the Smart Bets program is the chance to compete for an additional US$50,000 grand prize to the organization that can demonstrate the most transformational impact of their work at the Liberty Investors Summit, held during the Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner in New York City.

The 2023 Smart Bets encompass three U.S. states and seven countries, representing five continents. This week’s featured 2023 Smart Bets include:

Frontier Institute | United States
Big Sky, Big Opportunity

Montana offers a unique landscape within the United States: a vast stretch of land, towering mountains, and the third smallest population in the nation. Montana can be overlooked as a policy battleground state, but the Frontier Institute sees great opportunity for reform in the state, particularly with the current political context. It’s likely that elections will deliver Republicans a super-majority in upcoming legislatures, making constitutional revisions viable. The Frontier Institute works to advocate for expanded individual freedom and limited government, with a key focus on red-tape relief, fiscal responsibility, healthcare reform, active forest management, and educational freedom. With a favorable supermajority, there will be big opportunities for policy changes related to these focuses. The Frontier Institute plans to expand their capabilities and sustainability as an organization by creating the Center for New Frontiers, which will focus on promoting constitutional and regulatory policy reform in the 2025 legislature and shifting the Overton Window to expand the possibilities for forward-thinking reform. The creation of the Center will also include hiring a new director to develop and execute its research agenda and educational programs.

Some of the policy priorities that the Center will focus on with the 2025 legislature include: constitutional reforms to encourage economic dynamism, establishing permanent red-tape reduction measures, enabling crypto and blockchain innovation, eliminating policy barriers to energy abundance, and developing human-first environmental policy. The Center will also work to develop a strong fundraising base to increase its sustainability.

John Locke Foundation | United States
Empowering North Carolinians to Escape Poverty

The John Locke Foundation saw a need for a change regarding how the U.S. has addressed poverty-alleviation—namely, that government interventions most frequently have an impact by making poverty tolerable but not more escapable. Locke’s Empowering North Carolinians to Escape Poverty project is aimed at doing the opposite: addressing the leading causes of poverty in North Carolina to foster holistic and sustainable change. The project has been segmented into phases, beginning successfully with a focus on economic mobility and criminal justice reforms, then moving on to addressing affordable housing and mental health and substance abuse. Now, for its next phase, it will focus on freedom-focused solutions to energy affordability.

Based in North Carolina, the John Locke Foundation is a non-profit research institution, and aims to produce research and informed policy recommendations on the state’s most pressing policy issues. According to the Home Energy Affordability Gap project, home energy is considered affordable when it is up to 6% of a household’s income. In 13 of North Carolina’s counties (particularly in the eastern portion of the state), the average energy burden is well over 6% of household income, reaching up to 9% for some families. Locke aims to produce research that evaluates the impact of current policy on energy accessibility for low-income North Carolinians and propose solutions centered on a commitment to decreasing government intervention, while keeping policy makers apprised of key policy recommendations.