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 will be presented during Atlas Network’s Freedom Dinner on Nov. 8 in New York City at the historic Capitale. The winning organization will receive a $100,000 prize, and five additional finalists will receive $25,000 prizes. The 2017 Templeton Freedom Award finalists are listed in alphabetical order below.
Beacon Center of Tennessee (Nashville, Tenn.) - Tackle the Hall Income Tax
For decades, Tennessee has claimed to be an income tax-free state, even passing a constitutional amendment banning taxes on income. And for decades, this has been a lie – the state has continually taxed income gained through investment since 1929 with its grandfathered-in "Hall Tax." But last year Beacon Center of Tennessee fought back with its comprehensive public awareness and digital advertising campaign “Tackle the Hall Tax.” This relentless advocacy culminated in a full repeal of the Hall Tax, making Tennessee only the second state in history to repeal an income tax. As a result, Tennessee taxpayers are projected to save over $300 million per year, and Tennessee can now finally be rightfully counted among the few beacons for freedom as an income tax-free state in America.
Georgia Center for Opportunity (Norcross, Ga.) - Prisoner Reentry Initiative
Georgia leads the country in the number of people under correctional supervision – currently 1 in 13 statewide, starkly higher than the 1 in 31 nationwide rate. Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) has engaged with this issue head-on through its Prisoner Reentry Initiative. After forming a prisoner reentry working group in 2013, GCO used its expert insights to produce two landmark reports – both of which presented recommended solutions to policymakers. In the years that followed, nearly all of GCO’s recommendations have been passed into laws, helping to enhance opportunities for former inmates to reintegrate into society. With a 6 percent drop in Georgia’s prison population since 2012 – a $264 million saving for taxpayers – the reforms spearheaded by GCO are driving this positive trend.
IMANI Center for Policy and Education (Accra, Ghana) - IMANIFesto
Last year, IMANI Center for Policy and Education launched its 2016 IMANIFesto Campaign, which estimated the costs and rated the feasibility of all campaign promises made by Ghana’s political parties. For the first time this forced the country’s political parties to attempt to justify many of their unrealistic plans to the public. IMANIFesto stirred public debate with each publication and subsequent press event, which pressured political parties to reform several of their previously unrealistic promises. Near-constant attention in the national media and IMANI’s savvy use of social media made IMANIFesto a household name in Ghana. IMANI’s engagement of millions of Ghanaians has reminded the people of Ghana that the power to hold the government accountable is in their hands.
Instituto de Estudos Empresariais (Porto Alegre, Brazil) - Fórum da Liberdade
What began as a modest attempt to create a new dialogue in an otherwise closed and illiberal Brazilian state in 1988 has become a treasured cultural icon and international fixture – Instituto de Estudos Empresariais (IEE)’s annual Fórum da Liberdade has been described as “the Super Bowl of liberalism.” Bringing the ideas of a free society to the mainstream of Latin American culture, Fórum da Liberdade provides a unique opportunity for business leaders, students, academics, politicians, and former heads of state from Latin America and beyond to come together to discuss policy and principles. In 2017 the big event spanned six days of events, attracted 6,372 participants, disseminated 5,240 books, amassed tens of thousands of online views, and garnered hundreds of media mentions.
Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (Mexico City, Mexico) - Anticorruption Reform Initiative for Mexico, 3for3
For the first time in the history of modern Mexican democracy a credible, relevant, and effective anticorruption legal infrastructure exists. It holds Mexican politicians accountable and keeps them honest from the get-go, all thanks to Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (IMCO)’s revolutionary “3for3” campaign. As of July 18, 2017, it is the law of the land that every politician must publish his or her declarations of assets, taxes paid, and possible conflicts of interest. This comes as the result of an intensive two-year campaign launched and led by IMCO, in which they raised 634,143 signatures – five times the number required – to introduce the “3for3” (3de3) framework to the Mexican Congress for consideration of its passage into law.
Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy (Ottawa, Canada) - Aboriginal Canada and the Natural Resource Economy
The history of Canada’s Aboriginal people is one of state dependency and a lack of opportunity. To address these challenges, Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy (MLI)’s multi-year Aboriginal Canada and the Natural Resource Economy project has made the case that Indigenous engagement in the booming Canadian resource economy provides a once-in-a-century opportunity to set right the fundamental inequalities within Canadian life. Through its advocacy, MLI’s project to improve the lives of Aboriginal Canadians through market-based solutions is having a strong impact on both Aboriginal communities throughout Canada and the Canadian Parliament, winning widespread buy-in not only from Aboriginal and business communities but also from the Canadian government.