GREAT CONNECTIONS
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2017 ANNUAL REPORT

Another Year for the Books

We continue to see young adults impacted significantly by our educational programs. Our summer program brought students together from the US, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Ghana, and Brazil. We modernized our marketing and fundraising, added key advisors and board members, and made new strides in our Gap Year program.

 
 

Committed to Impact that Matters

 
 

Schools from grade school to graduate school have been the shock-troops bringing increasingly conformist, collectivist, anti-reason, and anti-freedom ideas into U.S. culture for over 40 years; RIFI was formed in 2005 to counter this trend with an innovative program that not only well-informs, but well-develops the independence of young people. We’re having a bigger impact every year and are on the cusp of our greatest expansion ever.
 

KOCH FOUNDATION & THE INSTITUTE FOR HUMANE STUDIES: Washington, D.C.

In January we ran a weekend seminar for high school and college students sponsored by the Koch Foundation. Kelly Barber, Curriculum Director at The Institute Humane Studies attended to see our methodology. Subsequently, The Institute for Humane Studies asked us to produce a student weekend seminar in the fall.
 

ISFLC: WASHINGTON, D.C.

Great Connections produced an independently-funded seminar at the International Students for Liberty conference last February, “Ayn Rand’s Underpinnings of Liberty,” in which we introduced students to her moral and political arguments for a free society.
 

GREAT CONNECTIONS SUMMER PROGRAM: CHICAGO

In 2017, our theme was Reason and Evolution. For this we contrasted a selection from Genesis with one from Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things

These two texts have contrasting views on the origin and development of the universe.

Charles Darwin and systems theorist Ludwig von Bertalanffy gave us expansive theories of biological development, Montesquieu a view of social evolution,  and Schumpeter introduced the ideas of creative destruction driving evolution in the market place. A viewing of the film Inherit the Wind revealed the long road to the acceptance of evolutionary theory.
 

GREAT CONNECTIONS FOR WORKING AND RETIRED ADULTS

Donors Jim and Deb Grace sponsored a weekend Great Connections for working and retired adults in Marietta, Georgia this November: “Ayn Rand and Her Influences.” The seminar focused on works by the thinkers that Rand embraced and rejected.
 

GREAT CONNECTIONS OVERSEAS 

This fall we planned our newest learning adventure for working professionals and retirees: a two-week long Great Connections Seminar June, 2018, held in locations of historic importance in Greece and Italy. Registration is underway.

Attendees will discuss the great ideas and works of Aristotle, Sappho, Homer, and others while being physically in the same locations where these remarkable individuals taught, worked, and lived. 

Our guests will see view the lagoon at Lesbos where Aristotle started the world’s first systematic research project, stroll the same sands of the Aegean that the great poet Sappho tread on, and, while discussing the Iliad, we'll explore Mycenae, home of Menelaus whose runaway wife Helen triggered the Trojan War.

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Major changes and advances at the Great Connections

 
 
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A major foundation has asked us to explore running a one-year experimental Gap Year program. Research and budgeting for the program have been completed and we are awaiting final approval. The expansion of our educational programs will give us significantly more reach, influence, and opportunity to impact the lives of young adults.

Marketing & Fundraising: This year we undertook a year-long project to thoroughly analyze every aspect of our digital strategy, presence, processes, and fundraising operations with a view to:

  • Making marked improvements and upgrading to industry  best practices
  • Positioning the organization to be able to scale and take advantage of new opportunities for growth.

We have upgraded all of our technology platforms, implemented advanced data operations and automation, and created an integrated marketing approach. This enables us to scale up our digital operations quickly and effectively as we grow and to remain highly efficient in our use of donor funds. 

 

Invest in the remarkable

 
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