When the Jesse Helms Center was formed over 30 years ago in the small town of Wingate, North Carolina, Senator Helms wanted to offer more than just a "dusty old museum." With a focus on young people in mind and a creative idea that developed years prior, Helms Center President John Dodd founded FELC in 1995 to teach young people about free enterprise and the principles which support it. Since that time, over 10,000 high school students have graduated from FELC, and hundreds more have participated in shorter versions of the program.
FELC sessions have been conducted in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas and even the South American country of Uruguay. In 2002, the Helms Center partnered with Tecnologico de Monterrey's high school division "Prepa Tec" to take FELC to Mexico. By 2010, hundreds of students in Monterrey and Queretaro, Mexico had taken part in this life-changing program. FELC is now a regular part of Prepa Tec's after-school offerings across its six campuses.
In 2011, the Helms Center embarked on a three-year expansion plan, geared towards adding additional sessions of FELC. While we continue to open the doors of free enterprise training to more students than ever, the personalized and fresh focus of our innovative education has not changed! Typically the FELC is offered as a five-day residential summer program for high school students on college campuses. However, the program has been offered in shorter sessions for high school and college students at domestic and international locations.