Think Tanks


Annie E. Casey Foundation

Founded in 1948, the primary mission of the Annie E. Casey Foundation is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. In pursuit of this goal, the Foundation makes grants that help states, cities, and neighborhoods fashion more innovative, cost-effective responses to these needs.

Brookings Institute

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations that advance three broad goals:

  • Strengthen American democracy;
  • Foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; &
  • Secure a more open, safe, prosperous and cooperative international system.

Cato Institute

The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane. It is a non-profit public policy research foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Institute is named for Cato's Letters, a series of libertarian pamphlets that helped lay the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.

The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government.

Center for Budget and Policy

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a non-profit think tank which describes itself as a "policy organization ... working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals." Based in Washington, D.C., CBPP was founded in 1981 by Robert Greenstein, who continues to serve as executive director and has a budget of about $13 million.

Since 1993, CBPP has worked to build capacity for state budget and policy analysis through its State Fiscal Analysis Initiative (SFAI), a network of independent state level organizations; as of 2006, SFAI had 29 members. CBPP established the International Budget Project in 1997 to help organizations in new democracies (such as former Soviet republics) and developing countries conduct budget analysis aimed at making these countries’ budget systems more open and responsive.

Children's Defense Fund

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) studies the lives of American children and the challenges they face. Our research informs the Leave No Child Behind® Movement to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start.

In addition to our signature programs, CDF staff members advocate for children in the following areas:

  • Child Welfare and Mental Health
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Child Health
  • Youth Development
  • Family Income
  • Budget Analysis

Economic Policy Institute

EPI conducts original research on economic issues, makes policy recommendations based on its findings, and disseminates its work to the appropriate audiences.

Its research is focused on four main economic areas:

  • Living standards/labor markets
  • Government and the economy
  • Globalization and trade
  • Education

Within these categories, its work spans the full range of economic issues, such as trends in wages, incomes, and prices; part-time and contingent "nonstandard" work; welfare reform; labor market problems; work organization; budget, tax, and fiscal policies; health care; education; the consumer price index; Medicare; Social Security; rural and urban policies; state-level economic development strategies; trade and global finance; comparative international economic performance; the health of manufacturing and other key sectors; competitiveness, jobs, and the environment; and urban sprawl, to name a few. Its research is varied, but a common thread runs through it: EPI examines issues through a "living standards" lens by analyzing the impact of policies and initiatives on the American public.

Employment Policies Institute

The Employment Policies Institute is a non-profit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth. In particular, EPI focuses on issues that affect entry-level employment.

Among other issues, EPI research has quantified the impact of new labor costs on job creation, explored the connection between entry-level employment and welfare reform, and analyzed the demographic distribution of mandated benefits. EPI sponsors nonpartisan research which is conducted by independent economists at major universities around the country.

Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation is a unique institution-a public policy research organization, or "think tank". We draw solutions to contemporary problems from the ideas, principles and traditions that make America great.

We are not afraid to begin our sentences with the words "We believe," because we do believe: in individual liberty, free enterprise, limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional American values.

Hoover Institute

The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University, is a public policy research center devoted to advanced study of politics, economics, and political economy—both domestic and foreign—as well as international affairs. With its world-renowned group of scholars and ongoing programs of policy-oriented research, the Hoover Institution puts its accumulated knowledge to work as a prominent contributor to the world marketplace of ideas defining a free society.


For more than 35 years, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., has been known for its high-quality, objective research to support decisions about our nation's most pressing social policy problems. The firm has conducted some of the most important studies of health care, welfare, education, employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs in the United States. This research, which crisscrosses the human life span from children's health and welfare to long-term care for elderly people, provides a sound foundation for decisions that affect the well-being of Americans.


Created in 1974 by the Ford Foundation and a group of federal agencies, MDRC is best known for mounting large-scale evaluations of real-world policies and programs targeted to low-income people. We helped pioneer the use of random assignment — the same highly reliable methodology that is used to test new medicines — in the evaluation of such policies and programs. In some cases, we work with others to design path -breaking initiatives and then subject those initiatives to rigorous testing. In other cases, we conduct careful evaluations of programs designed and operated by government agencies or others.

Over the years, MDRC has brought its unique approach to an ever-growing range of policy areas and target populations. Once known primarily for evaluations of state welfare-to-work programs, today MDRC is also studying public school reforms, employment programs for ex-prisoners and people with disabilities, and programs to help low-income people succeed in college. We have worked in nearly every state and most major cities; we also helped create a sister organization in Canada and are currently managing a large project in the United Kingdom with British partners. The five main policy areas in which we work, illustrate the breadth and diversity of our current projects. Those areas include:

  • Promoting Family Well-Being and Child Development
  • Improving Public Education
  • Promoting Successful Transitions to Adulthood
  • Supporting Low-Wage Workers and Communities
  • Overcoming Barriers to Employment

RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

For nearly 60 years, decision-makers in the public and private sectors have turned to the RAND Corporation for objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the nation and the world. These challenges include such critical social and economic issues as education, poverty, crime, and the environment, as well as a range of national security issues.

RAND researchers and analysts continue to be on the cutting edge of their fields, working with decision-makers in both the public and private sectors to find solutions to today's difficult, sensitive, and important problems. The high caliber of our researchers is well-known, as evidenced by the many Nobel Laureates who have been affiliated with RAND, either as employees, consultants, or in an advisory capacity.

Through our dedication to high-quality and objective research and analysis and with sophisticated analytical tools developed over many years, RAND engages clients to create knowledge, insight, information, options, and solutions that will be both effective and enduring.

Urban Institute

To promote sound social policy and public debate on national priorities, the Urban Institute gathers and analyzes data, conducts policy research, evaluates programs and services, and educates Americans on critical issues and trends.

In the mid-1960s, President Johnson saw the need for independent nonpartisan analysis of the problems facing America's cities and their residents. The President created a blue-ribbon commission of civic leaders who recommended chartering a center to do that work. In 1968, the Urban Institute became that center.

Today, we analyze policies, evaluate programs, and inform community development to improve social, civic, and economic well-being. We work in all 50 states and abroad in over 28 countries, and we share our research findings with policymakers, program administrators, business, academics, and the public online and through reports and scholarly books.

Our Commitments

  • Use rigorous, state-of-the-art methods to analyze public policies and programs
  • Bring sound objective evidence to public policy decisions
  • Deepen public understanding of policy issues
  • Save government and communities time and money through research on effective and efficient programs
  • Work to make our Washington, D.C., metropolitan area a stronger community


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Upcoming Events

May 2022

Graduate Summer Institute for Engaged Research and Teaching
Tuesday, May 31, 2022 - 12:00am to Thursday, June 2, 2022 - 11:45pm

June 2022

The patient revolution: Seeking careful and kind healthcare
Friday, June 3, 2022 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Information Session | RISE: Hometown
Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 7:00pm
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Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 12:00am to 11:45pm
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Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 7:00pm