Each year, the Smith Student Outreach Award recognizes a student-focused project that has gone above and beyond in promoting liberty. This year, the winner of the award is Ukrainian Students for Freedom (USF) for their innovative annual Leadership Program: the Fortress of Freedom. As winners, USF will receive a US$3,000 prize. Daniil Lubkin, CEO of USF, will accept the award in person during Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner in New York City.
The Leadership Program is a five-day conference that spreads the ideas of freedom among Ukrainian youth. This year the conference took place in the Medzhybizh Fortress: a medieval castle located in a rural part of western Ukraine. This location was chosen in part for its historical significance; the nearby town of Medzhybizh has a vibrant history as a point where Jewish, Polish, and Ukrainian culture have interconnected. The location was also a safe destination as it has not endured any lethal rocket strikes throughout the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. This unique location in the current geopolitical landscape inspired the name of this year’s conference name: Fortress of Freedom.
The event selected 300 dedicated high school and university students, out of a pool of 3,000 applicants, to attend the event. It also brought together a robust group of 30 speakers from 25 global organizations, including top lecturers on economics, politics, and philosophy. Attendees were invited to participate in a wide range of programming, from seminars and debates to team building exercises and workshops.
As an event created by and geared toward young people, the construction of the conference brought creative and innovative design. For a unique experience, the conference was held outside in a natural environment and featured music, night cinema events, and photo installations. By employing imaginative new modes of delivering educational programming, USF is transforming the way that young people engage with and contribute to the freedom movement.
This year, within the historical context of the ongoing-war, Ukrainian Students for Freedom has shown profound courage and resiliency, signaling to the world that they will continue mobilizing pro-liberty youth, even—and maybe especially—in the face of adversity.
About Ukrainian Students for Freedom:
Ukrainian Students for Freedom is a non-profit organized around safeguarding freedom, encouraging just policy making, and spreading the principles of liberty. Our mission is to unite, educate, and mobilize young Ukrainians who are committed to the ideal of freedom. Our generation was the first to be born in a free and independent Ukraine. We want to preserve that freedom for present and future Ukrainians. With this freedom, we believe Ukraine can achieve new heights of peace and prosperity.