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Following the events of September 11th, Dr. Ponichtera wondered how America could respond to these tragic events in a manner befitting its political identity.  Having just read a number of monographs on the founding of the United States, he was reminded of how seriously people like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson valued concepts like democracy, liberty, and freedom.  How could their belief in these ideals be kept alive and relevant for today’s Americans?  What made the United States the country of choice for people around the world who sought a better life for themselves and their families?  Finally, he wondered about the impact of our changing demographics.  How could America’s republican experiment, which has set us apart from monarchies, dictatorships, and other types of authoritarian regimes, remain vital and strong given a vast influx of new immigrants from countries that, by and large, had no experience with democratic government?

A colleague suggested working with youth.  Soon thereafter, it all came together.  The answer was Liberty’s Promise.  Here was an organization that would endeavor to remind us of our collective immigrant past and recall our tradition of embracing new arrivals.  It would also introduce our democratic values to immigrant youth, focusing on young people as our country’s future, the ones who will keep our ideals vibrant and alive, and who will pass them on to their children.  For Liberty’s Promise, the ethnic background of our future leaders is irrelevant.  What matters is that those leaders have the same love of freedom and liberty, the same respect for republican government that the people who founded this country had.  Liberty’s Promise aspires to contribute to Abraham Lincoln’s lofty goal, to ensure that, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Liberty’s Promise was incorporated in 2003, and officially opened its doors on August 11, 2005.  To date, we’ve served more than 4,000 immigrant youth through civic education and professional internships.

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