Top philanthropist first recipient of the IEA’s “Inspiring Freedom Award”

CONTACT: [email protected] / 07763 365520


The Institute of Economic Affairs is delighted to announce the recipient of its first Inspiring Freedom Award, to coincide with the IEA’s annual THINK conference.

The award, launched this year, recognises an individual philanthropist or company who has made an outstanding contribution to the Institute’s student education programme in the previous calendar year in terms of time, talent and resources.

The 2022 IEA Inspiring Freedom Award goes to American business man and renowned philanthropist Vernon W. Hill II, who was the founder and first Chairman of UK-based Metro Bank.

Commenting on the award, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood, said:

“The Institute’s student education programme is often one of the most overlooked aspects of the work we do here at the IEA and yet one of the most important. We commit over 25 per cent of our total resources to our student economics conferences, competitions, seminars and internships.

“That level of commitment from us requires genuine philanthropy from our supporters. One person stood out in 2021 for his commitment to our student programme, at a time when Covid restrictions starved so many young people of access to formal education here in the UK.

“Vernon was a regular feature of our 2021 summer education programme speaking to over 1,000 students from over 40 different countries across the period. Behind the scenes he is also an excellent sounding board for ideas, keeping the students’ needs first and foremost in our plans. We were all united in our decision as to who should receive the inaugural award.”

Brittany Davis, who leads the IEA’s student programme (and was herself a former beneficiary of the Institute’s internship programme), said:

“Working with Vernon across 2021 was immense fun. He brought energy and ideas to our education programme during what was a challenging year with ever-changing Covid rules.”

Vernon Hill II, recipient of the Inspiring Freedom Award, said:

“I am honoured to receive this award from an organisation that does so much around the world to promote the values of freedom. World events remind us every day how important it is to teach each generation the values and importance of a free society, free enterprise, free speech and free trade.”

You can watch Vernon’s acceptance speech on the IEA YouTube channel here.


Notes to editors

Contact: [email protected], 07763 365520

Further reading:

Celebrating Philanthropists: the IEA’s Inspiring Freedom Award, by Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer.

Further viewing:

Watch Vernon Hill accept the IEA’s Inspiring Freedom Award here

Watch Vernon Hill welcome speech for THINK 2022 here

The IEA student programme forms an integral part of IEA activities. Its current focus is from 6th form students (16+) through to PhD students.

In 2021 the programme reached over 2,000 students via its bespoke courses and conferences, with hundreds of thousands more via its student-focused videos on the IEA YouTube channel.

The student programme includes:

  • 30+ three-month internships

  • Two online digital courses: ‘Economics 101’ and ‘History of Economics’. 30 videos which reached 400,000 combine views in 2021

  • 9 weeks of economics summer camps

  • A one day conference, Think, which will be held on 25 June this year with speakers from the world of academic, business and politics

  • A one-week residential seminar plus other shorter residential or non-residential courses

  • 6th form economics conferences hosted by schools across the country

  • Essay competitions

  • 70+ speeches, lectures or debates for university society groups

  • Supply of over 3,000 books to students and teachers

Vernon W. Hill II

Often credited with reinventing American banking, Vernon W. Hill II is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the US Republic Bank (founded in 1988) and was the founder and former Chairman and President of Commerce Bank which he founded in 1973. Hill is also the author of Fans Not Customers: How to Create Growth companies in No Growth World, which was published by Profile Books in October 2021. It argues that it is better to have fans rather than customers and urges business to compete on service rather than price. The Hill Family Foundation supports various charitable organisations in both US and Britain.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expanding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.

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