by LAWRENCE REED
Dear Friends of FEE:
Since my last update in March, the progress, improvements and new initiatives at FEE have been picking up steam.
We’ve just launched our new Blinking Light Project in an effort to re-establish the vital link between personal character and a free society. I hope you will go to the website, read and watch all the materials we’ve housed there, and order a copy of the movie Amazing Grace for your home, school or local community. This is a wonderful film with a deep message of courage, responsibility and the power of a small group of people.
On the development front, we ended our fiscal year on March 31 showing a 23 percent increase in contributions over the previous year. Thanks to our supporters for this resounding vote of confidence! It will make possible many good things in coming months—most immediately, a huge increase in our high school and college summer seminar attendance. We’re expecting about 800 students at ten FEE seminars starting this month in Arizona, Washington, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina. Applications exceeded our budget and room capacity by more than 400.
While these record numbers are terrific, we don’t judge our success solely by how many people come to our events or how much paper we push out the door. We want to inspire and educate, and then engage, connect and activate. In later updates this year, we’ll tell you more about what many of the summer seminar students intend to do with what they’ve learned and how we’ll help them accomplish that.
For the moment, however, let me tell you about one FEE seminar alum and his recent achievement. His name is David Ryland Beard. He first attended an evening FEE program as a high school sophomore in his hometown in North Carolina, then came to a summer seminar we sponsored in Colorado in 2011. He describes these events as “life-changing.” He started writing and even producing his own short videos on free market economics. Last summer he interned with FEE before entering North Carolina State University. This past April, he won the $1,000 BB&T Essay Award from the Economics Department—in his freshman year, no less! David stays in touch and I’ve told him many times that people should get his autograph now while they can afford it. He will make a name for himself and persuade many people of the merits of liberty in coming decades—and we’ll be able to proudly say he got his start with FEE!
That’s David in the adjacent picture—taking time out to go ziplining last summer not far from my house in Newnan, Georgia.
In the fiscal year that ended in March, page views and visitors to our web site, FEE.org, were up 19 percent and 41 percent, respectively. We added more than 100 different modules to the web site, allowing us to deliver content to teachers and students in bite-sized, digestible pieces. Our Facebook reach rose by 162 percent. We scored a new record of 19,600 average monthly views of FEE videos on YouTube. Our one-hour, online webinars at least at least one every month now at least generated several thousand registrations. Subscriptions to our free “In Brief” e-mail service soared 81 percent and most of that growth occurred since our new editor, Max Borders, began making notable improvements to our magazine, The Freeman, late last fall.
Our headquarters is still at our ancestral location in Irvington, New York, but most staff are now in Atlanta, Georgia. Either late this year or early next, we expect to complete our move, cut our operating costs substantially, and relocate to a new headquarters site in mid-town Atlanta. We’ll miss Irvington but we’re moving for the same reason most people eventually move from where they were born: Lower costs and new opportunities, which mean we can reach more people with our message. The “new” FEE means more programs, publications, impact, and outreach—all without changing our principles one iota.
Thanks for partnering with us. We’re growing in every way but none of that progress would be possible without your help!