Smart Bets Grant

April 28 2023
Smart Bets Grant

Thanks to Atlas Network’s Coach, Compete, Celebrate!™ strategic model, we are uniquely positioned to discover organizations that “punch above their weight” and generate impressive returns on philanthropic investment.

In May 2023, we plan to announce the 2024 class of ten “Smart Bets” grantees from among Atlas Network’s partners. Each grantee will receive:

  • a $25,000 grant and a $10,000 matching grant for the following year;
  • eligibility for an additional $25,000 prize, awarded to one group that achieves the greatest impact over the first full year of the project;
  • a chance to showcase their work at a high-level Zoom event for Atlas Network partners and donors;
  • a chance to compete for an additional $50,000 grand prize and two runner-up prizes of $25,000 at the Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner in New York City;
  • a membership in the global cohort of Smart Bets;
  • a set of consultations with the Atlas Network team to identify ways we can support the progress of the organization’s priority initiative;
  • a profile story at which will be promoted among our online channels, at our events, and which can be used for local fundraising;
  • a sleek, one-page promotional product designed by Atlas Network outlining the partner’s status as and qualifications to be a Smart Bet that the grantee is encouraged to leverage with prospective donors; and
  • priority consideration for engagement opportunities such as high-level Atlas Network trainings


This year, the Smart Bets Grant is open to partners by invitation only. If your organization did not receive an invitation and believes it would be a fit for consideration, please send a one-page letter of inquiry to Alyssa DiPadova at by April 14. In future years, we hope to create a more open-ended application process based on word-of-mouth interest in being considered for Smart Bets recognition.

Our Smart Bets selections will, each year, include groups which have a clear track record of success with Atlas Network as well as up-and-coming “rising stars” where there are opportunities for significant impact. By bringing these “established stars” and “rising stars” together in this collaborative and competitive global cohort, we intend to build an aspirational dynamic among our peer network. Successful groups will realize they cannot rest on laurels, given the ambitions of the determined newcomers; the rising stars will be both challenged and inspired by what those more established peers have shown is possible.


In order to focus our Smart Bets on organizations that can especially benefit from our engagement, excluded from consideration are:

(a) organizations in the U.S. with an annual budget greater than $15 million;

(b) organizations outside the U.S. with an annual budget greater than $3 million; and

(c) organizations that are majority-funded by government or quasi-government sources (e.g., National Endowment for Democracy or USAID).

To ensure we are helping a broad enough array of freedom movement organizations, excluded from consideration are:

(a) organizations that have been recognized as a current-year Templeton Freedom Award finalist, and

(b) organizations that have been recognized by the Smart Bets program within the last two years.


Stage of organizational development:

(a) a high-achieving organization that is relatively lesser-known by the broader donor community and would benefit from increased recognition of its work; OR

(b) an up-and-coming “rising star” in which Atlas Network sees significant opportunity to achieve transformational impact.

Atlas Network grantee performance:

(a) an organization that has generated strong results with Atlas Network grants with zero delinquent reports or failed grants in the past 12 months; OR

(b) an organization that has achieved impressive growth with startup funding and/or training investment from Atlas Network, and which has provided a compelling business plan setting ambitious goals in their sights.

Leadership assessment:

Each Smart Bet will be an organization that has impressed the Atlas Network team, through multiple touch points, with quality of leadership. In other words, top staff at the organization will have demonstrated that they can identify strategic and scalable opportunities for action; are committed to professionalism, transparency, and rigorous quality standards; and are able to self-reflect on areas of needed improvement.

Engagement with Atlas Network programs:

(a) Eligible organizations will have maintained active engagement with Atlas Network offerings, demonstrating a willingness to learn from coursework as well as gain insights from and collaborate with their global peers; AND

(b) We have gotten to know the organization well through our various programs. Leadership at the organization has either participated meaningfully in Atlas Network Academy programming or supported the meaningful participation of their staff. This requirement is essential as it allows us to assess the factors above.

Learn more about Smart Bets partners from previous years: