All Commentary
Monday, August 4, 2014

Strategic Notes from FEE—Making Connections

August 2014

FEE’s mission is “to inspire, educate and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society.”

Our seminars and online outreach inspire and educate thousands of young people each year in these timeless principles. This is vital work, but it represents only partial success.

If FEE is fully successful, our alumni will remain connected with these ideas and personally committed to promoting them throughout their lives, whether as movement leaders or as principled entrepreneurs and professionals.

This week, we premiered a new video series that features some of our most effective and well-placed alumni. In under three minutes, you will hear from six alumni leaders on how their FEE experiences changed their lives.

To continue producing outstanding alumni leaders like these, we connect alumni to each other, to the ideas of liberty and to specific ways they can become involved with advancing the ideas. To accomplish this “connecting” function, our primary initiative is the FEE Alumni Network (“FAN”).

FEE has over 50 years’ worth of alumni, numbering well over 10,000. We know many of them personally, simply because the staffs of most of the free-market organizations that we work with are liberally populated with FEE alumni.

Despite our personal and professional connections, however, we had never stayed in touch with our alumni in a systematic way until 2012.

Beginning in April of that year, we launched our alumni network program. To date, FAN has signed up just over 3,000 members. The intent is to provide an unending flow of opportunities for FEE alumni to stay engaged with the ideas of liberty and to become advocates for these ideas.

We use FAN to advertise opportunities with our many partner organizations, as well as with FEE itself, for events, internships, jobs, contests (essays, blogging, video), fellowships and programs for further study.

FAN enables us to inspire alumni to pro-liberty action by highlighting success stories of people like themselves. It allows us to make our alumni aware of FEE’s “continuing education” programs, including the webinar series Big Ideas Live and the summer debate program, which are broadcast live but can also be viewed on our website any time. More continuing education programs are under development, some of which will be designed to enable our alumni to explore the content of the seminars more fully.

Even further, FAN provides individual alumni the opportunity to become personally involved on behalf of the freedom philosophy, by tabling at student events, providing kits of FEE materials to partner organizations on campus, earning cash by providing referrals to the next summer’s seminars, sponsoring alumni gatherings in their home cities, and acting as mentors to project teams in our Communicating Liberty program.

By facilitating ongoing connections between FEE alumni and a multitude of FEE resources, FAN is a key component in FEE’s strategy to produce a steadily increasing supply of alumni who have a lifelong engagement with and commitment to liberty.

If you have attended a FEE seminar at any time and are not yet a member of FAN, we’d be honored if you’d join our alumni network, either by sending us an e-mail [[email protected]] with your name, year attended, and any comments about your FEE experience, or on Facebook.

  • Wayne Olson is the Chairman of FEE's Board of Trustees and a former executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education.