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Judges Praise Acton’s Free-Market Solutions

As we wrote in last month’s Acton Notes, Acton was awarded the prestigious 2007 Templeton Freedom Prize for Excellence in Promoting Liberty in the category of Free-Market Solutions to Poverty. We just received some of the judges’ comments on our work, which you can view at Here is what they said:

Judge 1: “Extremely innovative idea that meets all the Atlas criteria and then some. This project needs the award so that other foundations/nonprofits around the world can start thinking along the same lines. It met the media test from its first ad and receiving ad awards increased that exposure.”

Judge 2: “Concern for others is not the exclusive domain of the left, and Acton must be applauded for bringing sensible economics into the church, building a coalition with businessmen, and using the tools of modern marketing into policy debate.”

Judge 3: “Based on the primary criteria (consistent with Atlas and prize missions, innovation, quality of execution and scholarship, and media coverage/ public persuasion), I believe Acton’s submission is far and away the best of the bunch. It makes the case for free-market approaches to help the poor on economic, political and moral grounds succinctly, persuasively, and in a remarkably marketable form.”

Judge 4: “The Acton Institute’s issue advertising campaign is of high quality, creative and makes superb use of business principles to promote a social message. And its focus on economic principles to end poverty was clear. The issue advertising takes a counterintuitive approach to generally accepted ideas about how to help the poor. In catchy ways it demonstrates how the traditional approach is wrong from both a market and social perspective. This is highly educational because it catches your attention with the counterintuitive approach. There has clearly been an impact as the WHO move to using light spraying of DDT for malaria demonstrates.”

From Our Conference Participants

The diverse academic interest coupled with ecumenical character of the group was a huge blessing...It was a powerful reminder of our connection in Christ, despite doctrinal differences, and also a testimony to the fact that something blessed is happening at Acton.

—Michael Fogas
Covenant Theological Seminary
St. Louis, Missouri

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to participate in this outstanding event. I come from the Philippines where human freedom has always been hard-fought and the Acton conference certainly has its most timely significance.

—Niccolo Martin C. Florencio
Ateneo de Manila University
Manila, Phillipines

In-service at Brother Rice High

On February 27 Acton staffers Anthony Pienta, who administers the Catholic High School Honor Roll, and Dr. Sam Gregg, director of research, visited Brother Rice High School in Chicago, Illinois, with Dr. Stephen Haessler. Acton conducted an in-service for about seventy teachers and administrators at the school, which has consistently placed among the top fifty schools on the honor roll, one of only three that have done so.

After positive learning experiences at Acton University, Acton’s annual summer conference, several teachers from Brother Rice decided to invite Acton to educate teachers in Acton’s world renowned synthesis of economic freedom and religious faith.

Dr. Stephen Haessler, who is also a faculty member for Acton University, previewed a number of sections of Apostles and Markets, the curriculum he wrote that synthesizes sound economic principles with Catholic social teaching. Acton staff also offered a fifteen minute section of Call of the Entrepreneur. Teachers were excited to learn that Acton is producing a full-length version that teachers will be able to use in classrooms in conjunction with a curriculum like Apostles and Markets.

Call of the Entrepreneur Trailer Goes on

Embracing new technology and viral marketing, Acton has placed the trailer for the upcoming documentary The Call of the Entrepreneur on YouTube. To see the video, go to and search using the terms “Acton” and “entrepreneur.”

Promote religion and freedom by sharing the trailer with a friend! Just click the “share video” button and e-mail your contact list an invitation to view this tribute to the men and women who create wealth by providing society the tangible benefits of their ideas, real jobs, and sustainable, vibrant economies.

Acton Ideas Light Fire in Rome

On Wednesday, February 28, Acton’s Rome office, Istituto Acton, launched the first in a series of in-house seminars geared toward educating professionals and lay students studying at Rome’s pontifical universities. The discussion group, called Campus Martius (Field of Mars), is meant to serve as a battlefield of ideas and to facilitate ongoing intellectual and spiritual formation.

All Campus Martius topics will focus on social doctrine, ethics, economics, and politics. In the first meeting, the group discussed the furor over Pope Benedict’s Regensburg address, the “dictatorship of relativism,” and how to open peaceful inter-religious dialogs between Islam and Christianity.

The first seminar was chaired by Dr. Juan Andrés Mercado, originally from Mexico and a professor of modern philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Professor Mercado is a scholar of the epistemological and ethical theories of David Hume and Immanuel Kant.

Groups are scheduled to meet at Istituto Acton the last Wednesday of each month.

Introducing Acton Ambassador Laura Lauer

Since last year, Mrs. Laura Lauer has offered her talent and support to Acton as an ambassador to our supporters in Detroit, Michigan. In the 1990s, after a small test donation, Laura found the relationship Acton has with its supporters warm, genuine, and encouraging.

Soon, she began seeking how to help get the word out about the great work the institute was doing to equip people of faith with the tools to defend economic liberty. In her own words, I like the entrepreneurial spirit at Acton—for example, their willingness to try new ways to get their message out (Acton University, Acton Media, different publications, developing relationships with various organizations like Legatus and other think tanks).

We are all Acton students in a way, every supporter, alumnus, and faculty member. With the diversity of the audience, I have always liked it that, on the one hand, Acton does not fall prey to the least common denominator syndrome by finding it necessary to “dumb down” their message, but rather they continually challenge us and, frankly, hold great expectations of Acton students. On the other hand, they do not ‘talk down’ to those who are reaching to grasp the complexity of the issues presented. After numerous years of being an Acton supporter and introducing Acton to many other potential supporters, an opportunity presented itself for me to begin working in a more formal capacity with supporters and on special projects as requested.

Laura describes herself as an avid reader and traveler, former resident of China, and a volunteer for many nonprofits including those with religious and political leanings. Laura holds a Michigan residential builder’s license, is a certified paralegal, and has a bachelor of science degree in business from Wayne State University.