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The TFAS Journey: Cultivating Leaders for a Brighter, More Prosperous Future

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The following are excerpts from TFAS President Roger Ream’s remarks at the TFAS 50th Anniversary Gala on Sept. 28, 2017. For full coverage of the event, visit www.TFAS.org/50thGala 


Beginnings are special. The founding of The Fund for American Studies certainly was.  The wise men who came together in 1967 imprinted on this organization – in-our-very-DNA – a vision that set our course and has brought us here this evening.

If we truly want our Republic to survive, we must return to the principles that animated the American founding and that can unite us as Americans. That is why the work of TFAS is vital.”

That vision is a world where leaders understand the simple yet profound idea that men and women were born to be free. The responsibility of an honorable leader is to protect our God-given rights to shape our destinies as we choose.

Left mostly free, Americans have built the greatest and most prosperous nation in human history. With freedom, Americans have been able to take risks, explore, innovate, invent, fail and succeed. It is a marvelous story of wealth creation and human flourishing.

In the past century alone, per capita income has risen five-fold and we’ve:

  • Eradicated dreadful diseases;
  • Extended life expectancy by decades;
  • Reduced infant mortality to a fraction of what it was;
  • Liberated ourselves from time-consuming household chores;
  • Led the world in virtually every field of economic endeavor – agriculture, mining, manufacturing, telecommunications, medical care and technology

– all while welcoming millions to our shores.

We have a rich inheritance to protect. As President Kennedy wrote in the speech he was never to deliver in Dallas, “We in this country, in this generation, are – by destiny rather than by choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.”

Destiny does indeed require us to keep alive the American experiment in liberty. Freedom and free enterprise are threatened as never before by an ever-growing government and a dangerous cultural divide. We clash over the most basic values we once shared – self-reliance, the rule of law, economic liberty and even freedom of speech and of association.

If we truly want our Republic to survive, we must return to the principles that animated the American founding and that can unite us as Americans. That is why the work of TFAS is vital.

We provide a place for young people of all backgrounds and beliefs to come together to discuss ideas, debate the proper role of government, and reach common understanding. We challenge them, just as we challenge the progressive orthodoxy taught at most universities.

What we call The TFAS Journey is a combination of academic courses in economics and government, real world experience gained through internships, and face-to-face interaction with leaders and mentors who serve as role models for a lifetime. That is where the TFAS Journey begins for each student. It culminates with our graduates moving into careers as part of an engaged and active TFAS alumni network, ready to make a difference in the world advancing freedom, promoting justice, and spreading opportunity.

The evidence of the transformational impact of the TFAS Journey is clear. We produce leaders such as those you’ve heard from tonight and many others working throughout the world, including:

  • Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, co-founder of the Institute for Justice, who has devoted his career to fighting for the economic liberties of the least among us.
  • Tim Carney, who has turned his Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship into a career opposing corporate cronyism, working for the Washington Examiner and American Enterprise Institute.
  • Lori Windham, fighting for religious liberty as senior counsel at the Beckett Fund.

Internationally, we’ve got young people such as Jacek Spendel, reviving the spirit of liberty among the young people of Poland; Carlos Marcano, fighting with unimaginable courage for freedom in Venezuela; and Arpita Nepal, standing up to Maoists in Katmandu at the Samriddhi Prosperity Foundation.

The list of TFAS graduates making a difference because of their TFAS Journey is a long one. We produce many, many more of those I’ve mentioned and those you’ve heard from tonight.

We do this every summer, every spring, every fall, and throughout the world.

I am pleased to announce tonight that we are building on our impressive record of accomplishment to meet new challenges.

The Fund for American Studies will continue to be the premier incubator of talent that can lead our country and the world forward in freedom. We will accelerate our work for liberty by creating:

  • The TFAS Honors Scholarship Program to expand our recruitment of young people who will be game changers in public policy, politics, journalism and other professions of influence. This scholarship program will be used to continue to recruit the best and brightest into our “LIVE. LEARN. INTERN.”  programs.
  • Building on the work of our affiliate, the Foundation for Teaching Economics, and to reach young people at an earlier age, we will develop the Early Economic Education Initiative significantly increasing the number of high school students and teachers we teach
  • And the TFAS Leadership Engagement Program to mobilize and significantly increase the impact of our 17,000 TFAS graduates throughout their careers.

Please join us as together we make a renewed commitment to the rising generation. Our new journey begins now.

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