November 12, 2015 Print

Grand Rapids, Mich.–based Acton Institute was awarded Atlas Network’s prestigious Templeton Freedom Award for its documentary film Poverty, Inc.

“Our country is at a tipping point,” said Acton Institute’s Executive Director Kris Mauren. “Mounting evidence — including that put forth by our new Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton — is causing people of all political stripes to question whether our actions are really helping the poor. This is where Poverty, Inc. comes in. It's purpose is a cultural shift in charity and development and this effort is fast gaining traction, especially among our friends from developing countries who have long been calling out for more inclusive market systems and stronger institutions of justice such as property rights, rule of law, and freedom."

Kris Mauren, executive producer of 'Poverty, Inc.,' and co-founder & executive director of the Acton Institute; Michael Matheson Miller, director & producer of 'Poverty, Inc.;' Jonathan Moody, managing director of PovertyCure; and Jo Jensen, 'Poverty, Inc.' impact producer and screenings manager.

Poverty, Inc. is changing the culture of aid. Drawing from more than 200 interviews filmed in 20 countries, the 91-minute documentary unearths an uncomfortable side of charity we can no longer ignore. Revealing the residual neocolonial power dynamics still embedded in modern aid, Poverty, Inc. challenges viewers to question fundamental assumptions and see people in the developing world not in terms of their lack, but in terms of their dignity and creative potential.

“This is profoundly important work being advanced by Acton Institute,” said Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips. “It contains good news: the solution to poverty already exists, in the entrepreneurialism of the poor themselves. It also conveys a challenge: to retire the top-down systems of aid delivery that bring as many problems as benefits.”

Poverty, Inc., which covers topics such as international orphanages, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the 2010 Haiti earthquake, TOMS shoes, Bono, and U.S. agricultural subsidies, has already been screened on more than 150 occasions to more than 10,000 people in 16 countries and 22 U.S. states. The film has earned more than 40 film festival honors including an invitation and endorsement from Michael Moore and a “Best of Fests” selection at IDFA Amsterdam — the biggest documentary festival in the world. Students are stepping up with numerous university screenings including a 350-seat sold-out show at Harvard Business School and a 400-person Guatemalan Premiere with MIT.

Organize a Screening

The Educational Edition of the film for high schools and universities is now available. To bring the film to a movie theater or community venue near you, visit the website or email Jo Jensen at

Harvard Law School. Over 200 students gather for a screening and discussion with co-producer Mark Weber. Harvard leads all educational institutions with eight screenings to date.

Poverty, Inc. provides a comprehensive perspective on the issue, giving voice to charity workers, local micro-entrepreneurs, politicians, and leading development experts such as Paul Collier of Oxford University, Marcela Escobari of Harvard University’s Center for International Development, and Hernando de Soto of Atlas Network partner the Institute for Liberty and Democracy. Prior to producing Poverty, Inc., Michael Matheson Miller directed and produced the PovertyCure DVD Series as he led Acton Institute's multi-year educational initiative PovertyCure. Recently relaunched and led by Jonathan Moody, PovertyCure offers a dedicated website, a group study curriculum, and a “ReThink Missions” toolkit for Christians.

Awarded since 2004, the Templeton Freedom Award is named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. The award annually honors his legacy by identifying and recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise, and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation, and human fulfillment via free competition. The award is generously supported by Templeton Religion Trust and was presented during Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner closing ceremony Nov. 12, 2015, at New York City’s historic Capitale. The winning organization received a $100,000 prize and the five runners-up received $5,000.

About Acton Institute
Acton Institute is based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Its mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.

About Atlas Network
Washington-based Atlas Network is a nonprofit organization that strengthens the worldwide freedom movement by connecting 466 independent partners in 100 countries that share the vision of a free, prosperous, and peaceful world where limited governments defend the rule of law, private property, and free markets.

Press Contact: Daniel Anthony, or (202) 449-8441