Grand Rapids, Mich. (March 12, 2007) - The Acton Institute won first place in the Free Market Solutions to Poverty category in the 2007 Templeton Freedom Awards competition. The award, managed by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, recognized Acton for its use of the “power of the popular media to challenge common beliefs about how to alleviate poverty.”
Using the tagline, “Don't Just Care, Think!,” the Acton project used documentaries, short films, public service announcements, print ads, and other educational materials to make the case that good intentions alone will not help the world's poor.
This is the third award for Acton. The Institute also won Templeton Freedom Awards in 2005 in the Excellence in Promoting Liberty category - for its Toward a Free and Virtuous Society conferences — and in 2004 in the Ethics and Values category for “its extensive body of work on the moral defense of the free market.”
The multi-faceted awards program, which attracted this year more than 200 entries from 53 countries, recognizes innovative civil society programs sponsored by independent research institutes around the world. The program is named in honor of famed investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. “Economic and political freedom are advancing globally, and men and women focused on ideas, rather than violence, are leading the way,” said Atlas President Alejandro Chafuen. “The winners of this year's Templeton Awards demonstrate the breadth of this movement.”
Templeton Freedom Prizes for Excellence in Promoting Liberty  are awarded in four categories: Free Market Solutions to Poverty, Social Entrepreneurship, Ethics & Values, and Student Outreach. Winning institutes in each category receive $10,000, while the runners up receive $5,000 each. Atlas singled out the following groups:
Free Market Solutions to Poverty
Acton wins first place. The second place winner was the Montenegro Business Alliance for its Flat Tax project, which helped move a proposal for a flat tax from theory to implementation. Montenegro now has a flat 9% corporate tax rate - the lowest level in Europe - and a flat 15% personal tax rate, which is scheduled to be reduced to 9% by 2010.
The Property and Environment Research Center, Montana, won thetop prize for its two-week Enviropreneur Camp for environmental entrepreneurs, or “enviropreneurs.” The Camp encourages participants to discover how individual initiative, property rights, and the free market can be used to solve environmental problems. The second-place prize was awarded to Civitas: The Institute for the Study of Civil Society of the United Kingdom for its Supplementary Schools Project. Rather than just documenting problems in the educational system, Civitas launched its own schools to provide an alternative. The no-frills schools focus on high-quality teaching of a traditional curriculum, including phonics-based reading and math without calculators, as well as small class sizes and regular contact with parents. The schools target children from the London's poorest neighborhoods - including recent immigrants from Bengal and Bangladesh.
Ethics & Values
In response to the deteriorating image of the Argentine government after the 2001 social and economic crisis, the Foro de Estudios Sobre la Adminstraci--n de Justicia in Buenos Aires(Forum for the Study of Judicial Administration) created the Prize for Judicial Excellence (PJE) to reward and encourage ethical, unbiased judges, and the efficient administration of justice. Sweden's Ratio Institute received second place for its research on Markets, Morality, Trust and Growth. This project analyzed how a free economy provides incentives for moral behavior, largely because economic activity depends upon creating trust among unfamiliar parties.
The top prize in this category was given to the Scientific Research Mises Center of Belarus for various educational programs, which are conducted despite threats of reprisal from Belarus' totalitarian government. The weekend schools, seminars, and camps help students understand the concepts of individual, economic and political freedom, which are relatively unknown in the country. The runner-up was the Liberalni Institut of the Czech Republic, whose Summer Education Programs about the importance of a free society targeted not only high school and university age students, but high school teachers as well. In addition, the Institute founded a High School Teachers Education Association in 2006, and provides member teachers with excerpts of classical literature on economics and philosophy, teaching manuals, and tests on key economic concepts and principles.
In addition to these prizes honoring specific projects, Atlas announced winners of 10 Templeton Freedom Award Grants , which are given to promising institutes, especially in parts of the world where there are few independent voices advocating the ideas of freedom. Each winner receives a grant of $10,000 to help them continue their efforts. The 2007 winners are:
- Center for Political Studies (Denmark)
- Centro de Investigaciones Economicas Nacionales (Guatemala)
- Foro de Estudios Sobre la Adminstraci--n de Justicia (Argentina)
- Fundaci--n Libertad y Democracia (Bolivia)
- Instituto de Estudos Empresariais (Brazil)
- Instituto de Libre Empresa (Peru)
- Japanese for Tax Reform (Japan)
- Prague Security Studies Institute (Czech Republic)
- Scientific Research Mises Center (Belarus)
- Think Tank Romania (Romania)
Seven additional institutes received Honorable Mentions and $5,000 grants. These are:
- Alternate Solutions Institute (Pakistan)
- Conservative Institute of M.R. Stefanik (Slovakia)
- Fundaci--n IDEA (Mexico)
- Independent Center for Studies in Economics and Law (Romania)
- Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security (Hungary)
- Invertir Institute: An Initiative of Procapitales and UPC (Peru)
- Lion Rock Institute (Hong Kong)
The Atlas Economic Research Foundation ( www.atlasUSA.org ) has been supporting independent think tanks that support the free society for more than 25 years. Atlas currently works with more than 270 think tanks in 80 countries. More than half of these organizations were assisted in their formative years by Atlas through financial support or advisory services. The Templeton Freedom Awards program was launched in 2003 with funding from the John Templeton Foundation , with more than $1,250,000 in prizes and grants distributed. The program utilizes a prestigious panel of independent judges  to identify outstanding work by independent research institutes. For more information about this year's winners, please contact Atlas at 703-934-6969.