The Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for American Ideals seeks to help students learn more about the time-honored ideals that have animated American life since our nation’s founding. The Center provides a variety of useful resources for instructors and students including booklets, posters, learning activities, quizzes and more. The JMI Campus Representatives program is housed within the Wells Center.

In addition, the Center regularly sponsors a bevy of special learning opportunities for high school students including presentations by public officials, prominent scholars, and historical performers as well as a number of programs for college students including movie nights, book clubs, seminars and internships.

While the Center addresses a wide range of topics, its work is primarily organized around two time-honored ideals: (1) freedom and (2) thrift. These ideals are often underappreciated in our day; yet they are foundational to the American way of life and to the success of our political institutions and economic system.

The Center’s name pays tribute to the memory of Preston A. Wells, Jr., a south Florida businessman, philanthropist, and war hero who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Preston Wells generously supported the work of The James Madison Institute and many other organizations during his life. Given his profound love of liberty, it is fitting that JMI’s Center for American Ideals would be named in his honor.

Each year, JMI honors a Florida student who has done an outstanding job embodying the ideals of the Wells Center in his or her community. For the 2016-17 school year, R. J. and Trinity Wood received the Preston Wells Student Citizenship Award. The Wood siblings have been active in a number of service projects in their community, including one that wowed an Orlando TV station and was featured in the JMI short documentary, “Taking Flight.” Visit JMI’s YouTube page to see this video — and other JMI videos about Florida students who are distinguishing themselves in civic life.