First launched in 2019 as an initiative of Atlas Network’s Center for U.S. and Canada, the 2022 Smart Bets class represents 10 rising and established stars in our network who have all been selected to receive $35,000 in funding, with the opportunity to compete for an additional $50,000 in the Investors Summit for Liberty, held the day after Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner 2021 in Miami, Florida. The two organizations that took top honors in the 2019 Investors Summit—the Property and Environment Research Center and the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy—went on to become finalists for the prestigious Templeton Freedom Award in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The 2022 Smart Bets encompass three U.S. states and seven countries representing five continents. Without further ado, here are this week’s featured 2022 Smart Bets:
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
For months out of every year, the 50,000 residents of the coastal Honduran town of Omoa are swamped by a huge raft of ocean-borne garbage from Guatemala City. Despite repeated promises from the governments of Guatemala and Honduras, the issue persists. Atlas Network partner Fundación Eléutera sees an opportunity to improve the lives of 50,000 individuals, demonstrate the effectiveness of a free-market approach to environmentalism, and show the power of grassroots action to effect solutions national governments could not.
The most important step toward achieving this victory for the people of Omoa is a legal and financial victory over the government of Guatemala City. The municipality’s negligence in handling waste has caused the yearly deluge in Omoa, and Fundación Eléutera plans to use the financial compensation to establish a foundation to oversee cleanup efforts and economic renewal. Pursuing this legal case will require building a class action lawsuit with the involvement of Omoa’s residents and businesses, especially fishermen.
Fundación Eléutera will use Smart Bets funding to market their plan and secure the backing of the people of Omoa, including multimedia and editorial content highlighting the potential of a cleaner environment to lead to greater economic prosperity. By bolstering the fishing, tourism, and leisure industries, Fundación Eléutera aims to enable better lives for residents of Omoa and slow the flood of migration to the north. This initiative provides an excellent test case to demonstrate the power of market environmentalism and grassroots projects to create a cleaner world and higher quality of life.
Atlas Network supports Fundación Eléutera through grant funding.
Human Rights Foundation
New York City, New York, United States
Half of the world’s population lives under tyranny today. That’s more than four billion people across 95 countries. Nonviolent citizen activists have a proven track record of improving conditions for people living under authoritarian regimes, and Human Rights Foundation’s Freedom Fellowship is an excellent way to make activist leaders even more effective in their work. For example, Bolivian activist Jhanisse Vaca-Daza was a student in the inaugural 2018 class of the Freedom Fellowship. Since then, she started Standing Rivers, a group that has grown to 300 activists with an online following of 90,000. Standing Rivers had a powerful impact on the political climate in Bolivia, eventually helping lead protests after the 2019 electoral fraud and subsequent resignation of Evo Morales.
The Freedom Fellowship is a proven and effective program, but Atlas Network partner Human Rights Foundation currently only has the capacity to train 10 activists per year. The organization will use Smart Bets grant funding to launch their Online Activist Academy to bring essential training and resources to on-the-ground activists working for freedom. After verifying enrollees’ credentials, Online Activist Academy will provide training on both the theory and philosophy of freedom as well as practical skills like fundraising, marketing, and safety. This program will expand the Human Rights Foundation’s training to the brave individuals doing the hard work of winning hearts and minds under tyrannical regimes.
Smart Bets funding will allow the Human Rights Foundation to make their plan a reality. They plan to build the program with a highly polished online platform, training videos from established experts, and engagement systems to ensure learning retention. Additional funds will be used to provide for the practical needs of activists—VPNs to ensure internet security, for example. The organization expects that once Online Activist Academy is in place, it will multiply the current training capacity of the Freedom Fellowship by several times.
Atlas Network has supported the Human Rights Foundation through grant funding.