Students for Liberty

Coordinates: 38°54′15″N 77°02′17″W / 38.9041°N 77.0381°W / 38.9041; -77.0381
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Students For Liberty
FoundedJuly 24, 2008[1]
FoundersAlexander McCobin, Sloane Frost, Richard Tracy, Sam Eckman, and Pin-Quan Ng
Type501(c)(3) public charity[2]
FocusCivil society, civic engagement and social entrepreneurship
  • 1750 Tysons Boulevard, Suite 1500 McLean, VA 22102
Area served
MethodEducation and leadership programs
Key people
Wolf von Laer (CEO)

Students For Liberty (SFL) is an international libertarian non-profit organization with origins in the United States. Formed in 2008, SFL grew to a network of 1,000 student organizations worldwide by 2014.[4][5][6][7]

It hosts an annual international conference and various regional conferences.[4] Wolf von Laer became the chief executive officer in 2016.[8]



Students in an Institute for Humane Studies Koch Summer Fellowship met on July 24, 2007, to discuss challenges faced by classical liberal student organizations. In 2008, Alexander McCobin and Sloane Frost organized a conference for 40 students involved in libertarian student groups. The first Students For Liberty conference was held at Columbia University from February 22 to 24, 2008, with 100 student participants. Afterward they formed Students For Liberty to provide continuing support to student groups.[9][10][third-party source needed]

The group's stated mission is "to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty."[11] Le Monde and The Investigative Desk described SFL as "a key organisation in the Koch system" of groups.[12] SFL is a partner in the Atlas Network.[12]

In the news[edit]

McCobin speaking at CPAC in Washington, DC

SFL co-founder and former president Alexander McCobin opened his remarks on the February 19, 2010 panel "2 Minute Activist: Saving Freedom Across America" at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) by thanking the American Conservative Union for welcoming GOProud as a co-sponsor of the event.[13][14][15] Ryan Sorba, California Young Americans for Freedom's chairman and author of The "Born Gay" Hoax,[16] followed with harsh words for McCobin, SFL, Young Americans for Liberty's Jeff Frazee, and the American Conservative Union.[13][dead link][14][15][17] The failed attempt of right-wing extremist Richard Spencer to speak at the annual Students For Liberty conference in Washington, D.C., in 2017 caused wider media attention.[18] As a reaction to the violence in Charlottesville SFL's CEO Wolf von Laer issued a statement condemning right- and left-wing extremism and warning of political polarization on the fringes of society as a global threat.[19]

Internationally, Students For Liberty has been noted by outlets such as Le Figaro,[20] Die Welt,[21] The Guardian,[22] Le Soir,[23] City A.M.,[24] 20Minutos,[25] CNN,[26] and Huffington Post Canada.[27] SFL trained members of the Free Brazil Movement, which opposed then-president Dilma Rousseff.[22] A spinoff of SFL, the Consumer Choice Center, was noted for its pro-vaping advocacy through the World Vapers' Alliance.[12]



SFL hosts an annual International Students For Liberty Conference (ISFLC). The inaugural ISFLC in 2008 brought 100 students from 42 schools in three countries to New York City. The second ISFLC in 2009 brought 153 students from 13 countries to George Washington University.[28] The third ISFLC took place February 13–14, 2010 at American University in Washington, D.C., and had more than 300 students in attendance. The fourth ISFLC, covered by ReasonTV, returned to George Washington University on Friday, February 18–20, 2011, this time with 500 students participating.[29][30][31] This international conference included a taping of Stossel, which aired March 31, in which John Stossel and Cato Institute Vice President David Boaz spoke.[32] The 2012 ISFLC brought out 1,013 students.[citation needed] The following year, the conference attracted 1,406 attendees.[citation needed]

Participants at the first Students For Liberty European conference at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

During the fall semester, SFL hosts regional conferences on campuses across the world.[5][33] On November 18 to 20, 2011, SFL hosted the first European conference at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Leuven, Belgium with over 200 students from 25 different countries attending.[1][34] In 2013–2014, SFL hosted over 30 regional conferences in North America, Brazil, the Spanish-speaking Americas, and in Africa with over 5,000 student attendees.[citation needed] In the fiscal year 2017 Students For Liberty reported that its conferences were in total attended by over 19,800 students.[35]

Free books[edit]

SFL, in conjunction with the Atlas Network, publishes a new book each year for classical liberal student groups.[36] Previous books include The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professor Won't Tell You, The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won't Tell You, After the Welfare State, and Why Liberty. SFL's current book publication is Peace, Love, & Liberty and includes essays from writers such as Steven Pinker, Radley Balko, and Tom G. Palmer.[37][third-party source needed]

Virtual Speakers Bureau[edit]

SFL's Virtual Speakers Bureau allows student groups to choose from over 30 speakers to host at one of their campus meetings through Skype, Google Hangouts, or GoToMeeting.[38] Some of the speakers include Andrew Bernstein, Greg Lukianoff, Jim Lark, Jeffrey Tucker, Lawrence Reed, Michael Huemer, Michael Strong, Tom G. Palmer, and Steven Horwitz.[citation needed]


SFL hosts seminars using web conferencing. Held weekly during the academic year since 2009, the topics tend to focus on career advice, economics, history, law, leadership, philosophy, public policy, public speaking, and statistics. Past guest speakers include Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University, Bob Ewing of the Institute for Justice, John Hasnas of Georgetown University, Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education, Jim Lark of the University of Virginia, Radley Balko of The Huffington Post, David Friedman of Santa Clara University, LGBT activist Zach Wahls, Tyler Cowen, Bryan Caplan, Peter Boettke, and Chris Coyne of George Mason University.[citation needed]

Campus Coordinator program[edit]

Campus Coordinators work with campus group leaders within a designated regional area to form and support student groups and to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of programs.[39] The 2010–2011 school year saw the inaugural year of the program.[39] Training is provided by the full-time staff as well as executive board members. The 2011–2012 class of coordinators included 60 students from the United States, Canada and Venezuela.[39] The 2013–2014 campus coordinator class included 120 students from across the continent. This number grew to over 2,000 worldwide in the 2017–2018 class.[citation needed]

Alumni for Liberty[edit]

Alumni For Liberty logo

Alumni For Liberty is a network of working professionals interested in supporting students and student organizations dedicated to libertarianism.[40] The program is open to all adults interested in supporting the student movement, whether or not they were a member of a liberty oriented student group.[41] The project provides ways to remain involved in supporting the student movement for liberty with monthly updates describing opportunities such as networking events, job openings, training sessions, leadership dinners, options for financial support of alma mater student groups, speaking to student groups, and mentoring of students interested in related careers.[40] Some notable alumni are the Brazilian political activist Kim Kataguiri, US political pundit Robby Soave, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce executive director and co-founder Randal John Meyer, economics professor Liya Palagashvili, education disruptor Zachary Slayback, North Korean activist Yeon-mi Park, Wolf3D co-founder Haver Järveoja, African Liberty managing director Olumayowa Okediran, the Danish politician Rasmus Brygger, Conscious Capitalism Inc. CEO Alexander McCobin, and the Swedish columnist and politician Alexandra Ivanov.[citation needed]

Young Voices[edit]

Young Voices was launched in 2013 and transitioned into its own standalone 501(c)(3) led by Casey Given as executive director.[42] Young Voices functions as a nonprofit public relations operation, promoting the viewpoints of libertarian writers who apply and are accepted into the program.[43][44]

Organizational structure[edit]

SFL is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports student groups advocating classical liberalism. SFL is run by over 47 full-time professionals at its headquarters in Washington, DC.[45] Direction of the organization comes from the executive director Wolf von Laer, the board of directors, and the International Executive Board.[citation needed]

A notable member of the board of directors is WholeFoods CEO John Mackey.[46]

North America[edit]

Students For Liberty got its start in North America and has grown tremendously ever since. In the 2013–2014 school year, 2,721 students attended SFL's 18 fall North American regional conferences. 1,275 students attended the 6th annual International Students For Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C., on February 14–16, 2014. In the same year, SFL's North American network grew to over 913 student groups with 120 Campus Coordinators. The 2017 class includes 217 Campus Coordinators.[citation needed]


In 2011, SFL established an executive board to expand their programs into Europe.[47] On November 18–20, 2011 SFL hosted the first European Students For Liberty Conference (ESFLC) at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Leuven, Belgium.[1] A second conference on the same location was held on March 8–10, 2013. In 2013, a total of 1,234 people attended 10 fall regional conferences across the continent. In March 2014, the third annual ESFLC was held in the German capital Berlin at the Humboldt University of Berlin, which attracted 560 attendees from 28 countries. The 19 regional conferences from September to November 2015 gathered in total 3155 participants.[citation needed]

As of March 2016, European Students For Liberty is governed by an executive board of 10 students and recent graduates, chaired by Stoyan Panchev.[citation needed]

In March 2016, European Students For Liberty held its annual conference at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic for over 900 people with the theme "Students We Should Remember." Speakers included Lawrence Reed, Tom G. Palmer, Lutz Kleveman, Annie Machon, Richard Vedder, Callum Clarke and more.[citation needed]

Spanish speaking Americas[edit]

In the spring of 2013, SFL launched Estudiantes por la Libertad, the Regional Executive Board for the Spanish-speaking Americas. The first Estudiantes por la Libertad Conference was held in Santiago, Chile from October 25–27 for 100 attendees. As of 2014, the Local Coordinator program included 103 student leaders from around Latin America.[citation needed]

In Bolivia, Estudiantes por la Libertad Bolivia was founded by the "charter team" members Roberto Ortiz and Luis Sergio Calbimonte in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, starting with a group of 20 members in 2013 and reaching almost a thousand young activist in different events through the years including a co-organized event with the Literature Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa. The starter group was built with students of the Private University (UPSA) of Santa Cruz and NUR University.


African Students For Liberty (ASFL) ran the first West African Regional Conference on July 26–27, 2013 at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and brought out 352 participants—SFL's largest ever first-time conference. ASFL organized the first East African Regional Conference in Nairobi, Kenya on May 9–10, 2014 and launched a Local Coordinator program the same year. The first African Students For Liberty Conference brought out 1180 students from all over Africa.[citation needed] In 2018, SFL acquired African Liberty, a platform that promotes individual and economic freedom in Africa, from Atlas Network. The platform is managed and edited by Ibrahim B. Anoba.[48][49][better source needed]

South Asia[edit]

South Asia Students For Liberty became an official SFL Regional Executive Board in 2014 with 20 Local Coordinators.[citation needed]


Asia-Pacific Students For Liberty was launched in 2016 and is currently accepting applications for Local Coordinators.[citation needed]


Students For Liberty became an official SFL Regional Executive Board with 1037 Local Coordinators.[50]


Incorporated[2] as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, SFL accepts only private donations[51] from individuals, foundations, and participation fees. During its first year, SFL raised fifty thousand dollars in revenue.[51] The organization's revenue grew, realizing almost a quarter of a million dollars in the second[1] year, then over one-half million dollars in the third[52] year. Expenses ran 65% of revenue in the first[51] year, 75% of revenue in the second[1] year, and 80% of revenue in the third[52] year. In its sixth year, SFL's expenses increased from $1.4 million to $2.6 million and revenue increased from $1.9 million to $2.9 million.[53] About 65% of its budget is spent on North American programs.[citation needed]

The organization has received financial support from billionaires David Koch and Charles Koch and related groups such as the Cato Institute.[54] According to Le Monde and The Investigative Desk, Students for Liberty has not formally disclosed its funders since 2016.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Students For Liberty, "2009–2010 Annual Report", "2009-2010 Annual Report | Students for Liberty". Archived from the original on 2010-11-30. Retrieved 2010-11-30., Washington, DC, July 20, 2010
  2. ^ a b c Internal Revenue Service (2012). Exempt Organizations Select Check (Report). Washington, DC: Internal Revenue Service.
  3. ^ Stossel, John (2014-02-19). "Students For Liberty". Fox News. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b Students For Liberty, "2010–2011 SFL Annual Report", Washington, DC, July 2, 2014
  5. ^ a b Herald Staff (November 6, 2011). "Libertarians promote justice for all". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on November 8, 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
  6. ^ Kennerly, Britt (December 4, 2011). "Baby boomer activists pass the protest torch to a new generation". Florida Today. Melbourne, FL. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  7. ^ Woodruff, Betsy (February 18, 2013). "Moving the Liberty Movement". National Review. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
  8. ^ "Announcing SFL's Next CEO: Wolf von Laer". SFL Blog. 2016-07-11. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  9. ^ John Stossel "(I Didn't Know) I'm a Libertarian", "Full Episode of the Stossel Show | Students for Liberty". Archived from the original on April 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-11., Stossel, March 31, 2011
  10. ^ Jonathan Perri "Interview: Alexander McCobin of Students For Liberty", [1], HeadCount, January 14, 2011
  11. ^ "Professor Kiesling Headlines Students For Liberty Regional Conference". Northwestern Business Review. 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  12. ^ a b c d Horel, Stéphane (2021-11-03). "Vaping: The real dollars behind fake consumer organisations". Le (in French). Retrieved 2022-12-12.
  13. ^ a b Gene Healy, "Don't trust anyone under 30?", [2], Washington Examiner, Washington, DC, March 2, 2010 Archived copy at the Library of Congress (November 25, 2010).
  14. ^ a b Michael C. Moynihan, "You Know the Lowlights. Here Are a Few Highlights from CPAC...Seriously", [3], Reason, February 21, 2010
  15. ^ a b William Upton, "Fear and Loathing at CPAC", [4], The American Conservative, February 22, 2010
  16. ^ Sorba, Ryan (2007). "The "Born Gay" Hoax" (PDF). Wilmington, DE: MassResistance. p. 95.
  17. ^ Vita Brevis, "CPAC Civil War", [5], Daily Kos, February 19, 2010
  18. ^ "Richard Spencer attempted to crash a Libertarian conference and was shown the door". Salon. 2017-02-21. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  19. ^ Liberty, Students For. "Students For Liberty Condemns Extremism". Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  20. ^ "Taxe sodas: le retour de l'Etat nounou". Le Figaro (in French). 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  21. ^ Schäffler, Frank (2015-11-06). "Liberalismus: Es gibt eine neue freiheitliche Jugend in Deutschland". Die Welt. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  22. ^ a b Phillips, Dom (2017-07-26). "Brazil's right on the rise as anger grows over scandal and corruption". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  23. ^ ""Que se passe-t-il à l'ULB?" Une dénonciation du capitalisme…". Le Soir Plus. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  24. ^ Bentley, Guy (2014-09-02). "Student movement launches global campaign to end the war on drugs". Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  25. ^ 20Minutos. "'Students For liberty' distingue al catedrático José Luis Placer con el premio 'Alexis de Tocqueville' –". – Últimas Noticias. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  26. ^ "Statements".
  27. ^ "No Nanny: Students For Liberty Take To Parliament Hill On World No Tobacco Day". HuffPost Canada. 2016-06-01. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  28. ^ Damon W. Root, "Students For Liberty", [6], February 13, 2009.
  29. ^ Josh Swain "What We Saw at the Students For Liberty Conference 2011", [7], ReasonTV, February 28, 2011
  30. ^ John Stossel "Students Who Get It!", [8],, March 30, 2011
  31. ^ Gene Healy "Young Libertarian Activists Point Way to Freedom's Future", "Young Libertarian Activists Point Way to Freedom's Future | Gene Healy | Columnists | Washington Examiner". Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-03-31., The Washington Examiner, February 22, 2011
  32. ^ John Stossel "This Week's Show: Students Who Get It!", "This Week's Show: Students Who Get It! « John Stossel". Archived from the original on 2011-04-02. Retrieved 2011-03-30., Fox Business, March 30, 2011
  33. ^ Students For Liberty, "2010–2011 SFL Midyear Report", [9] Archived 2011-01-19 at the Wayback Machine, Washington, DC, December 8, 2010
  34. ^ Students For Liberty, "2011–2012 SFL Midyear Report", [10], Washington, DC, December 14, 2011
  35. ^ "Annual Report – Students For Liberty" (PDF).
  36. ^ "Past SFL Book Publications | Students for Liberty". Archived from the original on 2014-06-25. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  37. ^ "Peace, Love, & Liberty: A New Book | Students for Liberty". Archived from the original on 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2014-07-02.
  38. ^ "Speaker's Network – Students For Liberty". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  39. ^ a b c Butler, Robert (2012-04-18). "How SFL's Campus Coordinator Program Changed My Life". Williamson County Libertarian Party.
  40. ^ a b "Northwood's Deming named to Alumni For Liberty". Midland Daily News. December 3, 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  41. ^ Robinson, Jenna Ashley (2010-06-10). "Standing Up to My Alma Mater". John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.
  42. ^ "Young Voices – SourceWatch".
  43. ^ "Charles Koch Institute fellowship funds journalists". Columbia Journalism Review.
  44. ^ "Freshman Christian Watson Accepted as Young Voices Contributor". Mercer News. March 19, 2019.
  45. ^ "Staff Page". SFL Website. Students For Liberty. Retrieved 16 December 2013.
  46. ^ "Board of Directors".
  47. ^ "About ESFL – Students For Liberty". Archived from the original on 25 September 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  48. ^ Anoba, Ibrahim (2019-03-27). "America Is Right to Reduce Its Troops in Africa". The National Interest. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  49. ^ "The pan-African struggle for freedom in the 21st century │ Ibrahim…". Atlas Network. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  50. ^ "Brasil – Students for Liberty". SFL. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  51. ^ a b c McCobin, Alexander. "Finances". Archived from the original on November 29, 2010. Retrieved November 29, 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  52. ^ a b Students For Liberty, "2010–2011 Annual Report", [11] Archived 2012-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, Washington, DC, July 20, 2011
  53. ^ Students For Liberty, "2013–2014 Annual Report", [12], Washington, DC, July 2, 2014
  54. ^ "La mouvance libertarienne s'installe en France pour dénigrer toute transition écologique". Basta !.

External links[edit]

38°54′15″N 77°02′17″W / 38.9041°N 77.0381°W / 38.9041; -77.0381