State Policy Network

About State Policy Network

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We believe the reason millions of people have come to America’s shores seeking better lives is not because of anything Washington, DC. has to offer. What makes America a blessing and a dream for so many is not the power of our government but the strength of our communities. Every day, Americans from coast to coast work to build businesses, take care of one another, and pursue fulfilling lives in peace. Unlike so many countries around the world that centralize power in the hands of elites, our system has enabled enormous prosperity and progress by keeping power in the hands of the people.

But more and more, barriers are emerging to the pursuit of a good life in America. Essentials like a safe place to live, reliable and meaningful work, affordable healthcare, quality education, and retirement security are beyond the reach of too many.

It’s not that we’ve forgotten how to govern ourselves, to solve problems together, and to build enterprises that generate good products and steady jobs. The American people are not the problem. The problem is that powerful elites are turning Washington, DC, into an imperial city. They seek to dictate how we educate our children, how we provide healthcare in our communities, how we police our neighborhoods, how we farm our land, how we express our political opinions, and even how we peacefully practice our religions.

We believe the solution to what ails so many American communities is not more power in the hands of Washington elites, but a restoration of the individual rights and local governance that for centuries has made America a beacon of hope for millions around the world.


State Policy Network’s vision is an America where all people can flourish because collaborative, entrepreneurial leaders have secured lasting social change, personal freedom, and economic opportunity at the state and local level.


State Policy Network’s mission is to catalyze thriving, durable freedom movements in every state, anchored with high-performing independent think tanks.


  • We believe local problems are best solved by local leaders who know and understand the challenges their communities face. We are committed to restoring the necessary balance of power between Washington, DC and the states, so that communities can advance and innovate policy solutions that better meet their unique needs.
  • We believe free enterprise is the most moral and proven system for giving as many people as possible opportunities to build businesses and livelihoods that serve their communities, create good jobs, and establish economic security for themselves and their families. Free enterprise has lifted billions of people worldwide out of poverty. Giving people the personal freedom to be entrepreneurial in all walks of life generates lasting social change that improves everyone’s quality of life.
  • We believe nonprofit think tanks play a vital role in society by providing reliable research, analysis, and education to help government officials develop compassionate policies that help rather than hinder people, and by engaging citizens to give them a voice in that policy-making process. To fill this role successfully, we are committed to modeling and fostering excellence in nonprofit best practices.
  • We act with respect, integrity, inclusiveness, trustworthiness, humility, professionalism, and humanity.


To accomplish our mission, State Policy Network supports the growth of a 50-state Network of state think tanks through programs and services that:

  • Advise and assist state-based leaders working to establish new think tanks.
  • Provide training, coaching, and strategic planning to empower state think tank leaders to cultivate essential leadership and professional skills, as well as nonprofit organizational excellence.
  • Connect state think tank leaders through peer networks, policy working groups, SPN’s Annual Meeting, and online resources so that they can encourage and challenge each other, exchange best practices, and refine ideas and strategies.
  • Defend the 50-state think tank Network by sharing best legal practices, providing critical resources when members are attacked, and fighting organized assaults on free speech and citizen privacy.


State Policy Network endeavors to inspire and raise the level of effectiveness of affiliated state think tanks so that they can be forces for the public good. To positively influence their states, think tanks must educate, inform, and engage people in their communities. Effective communication requires trust, so think tanks must be well run and have the highest standards if they want to earn the confidence of citizens and policymakers. State Policy Network works alongside affiliated state think tanks to foster high performance through training and peer mentoring in leadership, board management, staffing, compliance, ethics, stewardship, finance, operations, research, communications, public engagement, and issue advocacy.

While we focus on supporting others, SPN also strives to model excellence in the Network by adhering to nonprofit best practices in our policies, procedures, and practices.


SPN’s vision, mission, and values are the sole guides for what we say, what we do, and where we invest the resources generously provided to us by thousands of supporters from coast to coast. We welcome investment from all who share our commitment to empowering states and communities, provided they understand that their donations will in no way dictate our message or mission. In this we view our donors not as patrons or customers, but as partners in the important work of restoring American self-governance.


Carl O. Helstrom, III (Chairman)
The JM Foundation

Tracie J. Sharp (President)
State Policy Network

Stanford D. Swim (Secretary)
Bill of Rights Institute

Thomas L. Willcox (Treasurer)
The Roe Foundation

Lawson Bader
DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund

George Coates

John Hood
John William Pope Foundation

Adam Meyerson
Stand Together

Carrie Tynan
Adolph Coors Foundation

Bridgett G. Wagner
The Heritage Foundation


A strength of our community is that the affiliates of State Policy Network are all fiercely independent entities with entirely separate legal and financial structures, staffs, support bases, and boards of directors. Each of these innovative partners was founded with a unique vision and designed to be highly relevant and responsive to the needs and concerns of the citizens of its state.

SPN neither dictates nor officially endorses the individual decisions of its think tank affiliates. Instead it works to ensure robust and diverse advocacy for liberty across the entire, independent 50-state network. Reports of the network’s activities and successes here on do not constitute formal authentication or coordination. They are presented to publicly share sound, reasonable methods to remove barriers to opportunity and choice for all Americans.

State Policy Network has earned the highest Charity Navigator rating. SPN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and any contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. No goods or services are provided in exchange for contributors’ generous financial donation.

State Policy Network has earned the Gold Star GuideStar Rating for our commitment to nonprofit transparency.

State Policy Network and SPN are registered trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office.