One of the most exciting opportunities from Atlas Network is our Smart Bets program, which exemplifies all three components of our Coach, Compete, Celebrate strategic model. The 2023 Smart Bets class represents 10 partners in our network who have been selected for going above and beyond in their work to generate positive change in their communities. Grantees will be awarded an initial $25,000 grant, which includes a matching grant offer of $10,000. They will also compete for an additional $50,000 grand prize at the Liberty Investors Summit, held during the Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2022 in New York City, with two runner-up prizes of $25,000. Membership in the 2023 Smart Bets class will also provide grantees with the opportunity to work closely with the Atlas Network team and past and present Smart Bets organizations in the form of consultations, collaborative meetings, and engagements with prospective donors. Finally, the partners from the Smart Bets class will be eligible for a $25,000 prize that is awarded to the grantee that achieves the greatest impact over the course of a year.
Without further ado, read on to learn more about Atlas Network 2023 Smart Bets class!
Bikalpa – an Alternative | Nepal
Countering Populism, Promoting Freedom
The majority of political parties in Nepal are left-leaning, with many policy makers and government authorities subscribing to populist ideologies. The media has likewise been criticized for politicization and bias, with populist news dominating the headlines. Without a diversity of options for receiving news, this system creates an environment where populism and nationalism become the predominant political ideology shaping the average Nepalese perspective. Bikalpa – an Alternative saw the need for a neutral news source that would provide an alternate discourse and promote the values of freedom and democracy in Nepal, and thus started a news portal to do just that called Bikalpa Khabar.
Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes | Burundi
Street trading is the main source of income for over half (57%) of the Burundian population, as an accessible, low-cost entrepreneurial opportunity, but it is also an occupation which leaves individuals with few economic and property rights. Street traders operate at risk of abuse by municipal authorities, including threat of eviction, seizure of agricultural assets, and arbitrary fines. In effort to address this reality, the Centre for Development and Enterprises Great Lakes launched “Harageze” (translated to it is time), a project that seeks to reform street trade laws as a means of promoting economic progress in Burundi.
Fundacja Liberté! | Poland
In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected and facing populist and illiberal tendencies, Fundacja Liberté! sees not only potential but a need for creating spaces for interdisciplinary and cross-cultural conversation and debate to promote liberty, democracy, free markets, and open society. This is why they created Freedom Games, a forum based in Poland that aims to offer a creative and engaging space for individuals from sectors of culture, business, and public affairs (among others) to challenge and inspire one another in a network-building space. Not only does the event bring together leading intellectuals and decision-makers from around the world, but it also engages over 1 million viewers online.
Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad | Spain
Taxes Down, Citizens Up!
In Spain, the national, regional, and municipal levels of government overlap in different areas, while still each requiring a significant budget, incurring high taxes for citizens. With the current climate of high inflation and significant economic stress for citizens, there has been increasing social demand for more government austerity and less non-essential expenditures. The Fundación para el Avance de la Libertad (FundaLib) works to contribute to tax policy reform, and so far has seen victory with 25 improvements in tax law. A central component to this work is FundaLib’s annual production of the Regional Tax Competitiveness Index and the Index for Economic Freedom.
Frontier Institute | United States
Big Sky, Big Opportunity
Elections are forecasted to deliver Republicans a supermajority for the 2025 legislature in Montana, opening the possibility for constitutional revisions for powerful policy reforms. Frontier Institute aims to shape the policy agenda for this supermajority with an expansion of their policy capabilities by launching the Center for New Frontiers. The Center will be dedicated to opening new opportunities for freedom and innovation in Montana, with primary policy aims including constitutional reforms to encourage economic dynamism, establishing permanent red tape reduction measures, enabling cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation, eliminating policy barriers to energy abundance, and developing human-first environmental policy.
John Locke Foundation | United States
Empowering North Carolinians to Escape Poverty Project
We measure poverty rates in percentage points, but the people behind those statistics have a common desire: freedom to pursue a better life. That means breaking the cycle of poverty, providing for their families, and reducing dependence on government. Government intervention has made the vicious cycle of poverty even more difficult to escape. The John Locke Foundation’s Empowering North Carolinians to Escape Poverty project is tackling the leading causes of poverty in North Carolina and beyond, including economic opportunity, overcriminalization, affordable housing, energy affordability, and mental health and substance abuse. The research and policy recommendations from this project stand to be transformative in changing the conversation around poverty alleviation policy from “What can government do to help?” to “How can government remove barriers so men and women can pursue economic independence?”
Lithuanian Free Market Institute | Lithuania
Economics, Civics, and Liberty for Early Teenage Learners
Neuroscience and psychology show us that the early teenage years are a crucial time for shaping an individual’s social and civic attitudes and beliefs. Lithuanian Free Market Institute aims to embrace this stage of development to foster value-based economic and civic learning that is grounded in the ideas of liberty and agency-based social skills. Lithuanian Free Market Institute has created an interdisciplinary course which currently reaches six in ten high school students in Lithuania, and marries together the ideas of citizenship and sound economic reasoning, and economics and ethics.
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union | New Zealand
Leading the World from the Bottom of the World
In the 1980s, New Zealand’s economic reform and deregulation set a precedent that would eventually lead to Reagan/Thatcher-style liberalism spreading throughout the West. New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union hopes to work to reestablish New Zealand as a leader of freedom and become the most popularly supported taxpayer groups in the world. They aim to take advantage of the upcoming general election and subsequent new government in New Zealand and formulate policy platforms that focus on improving New Zealand’s overall economic freedom.
Students for Liberty Brasil | Brazil
Within Brazilian public schools and universities, students have few opportunities to learn about liberty, due to an emphasis on collectivism and the importance of government, and they lack learning opportunities presented from the perspective of free-market policies and entrepreneurship. Students for Liberty Brasil (SFLB) aims to change this reality by reaching students throughout Brazil and instilling the values of liberty and entrepreneurship. SFLB’s approach is two-fold. Within a decade of its existence, several organizations have sprouted from SFLB and now operate to directly impact public policy. SFLB now turns its attention more directly toward students, offering courses and trainings to foster a commitment to liberty and prosperity that will make students today the pro-liberty leaders of the next generation.
Young Voices | United States
Young Voices Level Up Initiative
Talent development, particularly of young people who can appeal to and engage with other young people, is a massively overlooked component of any sustainable political movement. Young Voices recognized this, and over the past decade has worked with over 400 rising libertarian leaders in industries ranging from think tanks to media. Young Voices is becoming the premier talent pipeline in the liberty movement, and their work centers on three primary programs: the Regional Leaders Program, the Accelerator Program, and the Dissident Project.
Keep an eye on our Atlas Network blog in coming weeks for more information on each of these organizations.