Ideas to Impact Blog

Commitment to Free Markets That Allow for Private Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, and Voluntary Exchange Within the Rule of Law

“In due time, the good fortune of the United States to have had such a man as Calvin Coolidge in just the years he filled that office will be more clearly realized than it yet has been.”

— The Wall Street Journal, eulogizing President Calvin Coolidge, January, 1933

CC-Logo-WhiteBKG-7-1024x4242023 was the centennial year of President Calvin Coolidge’s elevation to the highest office in the land. The Foundation dedicated to preserving our thirtieth president’s legacy and values made sure that the year didn’t pass without a proper celebration and the attention it deserved.

Based in Silent Cal’s hometown of Plymouth Notch, Vermont, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation was formed in 1960 by John Coolidge, the president’s son, along with a group of fellow Coolidge enthusiasts, to increase Americans’ knowledge of Coolidge and the values he promoted throughout his life.

Those values—civility, limited government, federalism, academic merit, and free enterprise—could hardly track more closely with those of the Bradley Impact Fund. Impact Fund donors support the Foundation’s key initiatives and platforming of economic history and inquiries into the philosophy of free markets.

The Coolidge Scholars Program is among the most competitive and generous undergraduate awards in America. “The Coolidge” is a full-ride, four-year, merit scholarship that can be used by recipients at any accredited college or university in the United States. Each year, thousands of Americans study President Coolidge’s time in office and read his autobiography through the course of applying for the scholarship.

Currently, three to four new Coolidge Scholars are selected annually after a rigorous review process that culminates with a finalist weekend in Woodstock and Plymouth Notch, Vermont. The finalist jury is chaired by James H. Douglas, former Governor of Vermont.

In addition to the full-ride awards, the top one hundred applicants each year are named “Coolidge Senators” and invited to participate in the Coolidge Foundation’s annual “Coolidge Senators Summit” in Washington, DC. Each of these students receives a modest scholarship as well. The Foundation is building an endowment to support further program expansion.

Recognizing the need to give talented, younger Americans an opportunity to shoot for the high ideals that President Coolidge exemplified, the Foundation also operates a national high school debate program, the centerpiece of which is the Coolidge Cup National Debate Championship. Beginning with tournaments in cities across the country, the winners of these tournaments are invited to compete for the Coolidge Cup on the Fourth of July, Coolidge’s birthday, in Plymouth Notch.

Through all Coolidge Debate tournaments, students learn about all sides of policy issues and develop critical thinking and presentation skills necessary to be successful citizens. Most importantly, the students enjoy an encounter with President Coolidge and his timeless values. To date, nearly 2,000 students have participated in

Coolidge Debate, hundreds of whom have come to Plymouth Notch on scholarships funded by the Foundation.

In addition to the scholarship and debate programs, the Foundation organizes and hosts visits to Plymouth Notch for hundreds of students each year and organizes conferences, symposia, lectures, and public events both in Plymouth Notch and around the country.


Furthermore, the Foundation conducts original research examining President Coolidge’s policy ideas; publishes a periodical, The Coolidge Quarterly; maintains a website of Coolidge resources; and houses a collection of Coolidge papers and artifacts. True to his commitment to the free market and limited government, the Coolidge Foundation (unlike modern presidential libraries) receives no federal support. It is up to private citizens like us to ensure that the legacy and lessons of this underrated president remain alive for America’s next generation.

The Impact Fund’s and Coolidge Foundation’s shared interest in the prosperity brought by free markets has never been more timely. The market may, to a great degree, operate itself, but it doesn’t defend itself. Unjust government overreach remains a constant threat, even on the political right.

Forming a new generation of defenders of free enterprise—in union with the values that uphold human dignity—has never been more urgent.

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