Beacon Center of Tennessee

Empowering Tennesseans to reclaim and protect their freedoms, so that they may freely pursue their version of the American Dream.

Nashville, TN   |


The Beacon Center empowers Tennesseans to reclaim and protect their freedoms, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream.

Ruling year info



Mr. Justin D. Owen

Main address

1200 Clinton Street #205

Nashville, TN 37203 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Tennessee Center for Policy Research



NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (W05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (B05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (S05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
Register now



Programs and results

What we aim to solve

This profile needs more info.

If it is your nonprofit, add a problem overview.

Login and update

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Innovation Freedom and Emerging Technologies

Think of all the ways we use technology on any given day to make our lives easier. Your GPS is an absolute must to get to a new doctor’s office. Don’t want to deal with finding a parking spot downtown? Hail an Uber through your app and somebody will be at your place in a few minutes to take you anywhere you want to go. Need a weekend getaway? Hop on Airbnb and book that perfect mountain sanctuary for some rest and relaxation. Need your air conditioner fixed? Find a good repairman on Angie’s List or Handy. Can’t get to the grocery store because your car is in the shop? Pull up the Instacart app and for a small fee have your groceries delivered right to your door.
All of these examples highlight the effect of innovation on our lives. Innovation is the process of creating better products, services, processes, or business models for society. Entrepreneurs develop these innovations by identifying problems, investing their capital, and creating solutions. Many times, as consumers, we don’t even know we have these problems. Take for example Henry Ford who once famously quipped, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
These and countless other examples of modern conveniences would seem unimaginable just a few short years ago. And now we can hardly imagine life without them. Innovation makes our lives easier, more affordable, more convenient, and even creates new opportunities and markets. It makes us more productive and allows for greater human flourishing. What would happen if we tried to slow this process down or prevent these innovators from implementing their next idea? What could we as a society miss out on? Because there are always those who try to stop innovation at every turn. Sadly, that usually involves using the power of government to ban the competition. For example, rather than change to market demands for cheaper and more convenient transportation, taxi drivers lobbied to have Ubers banned in many cities. The same happened with hotels and Airbnb, and countless other examples.
This is why Beacon is working to ensure that Tennessee remains a place where entrepreneurs and small business owners can start their businesses without fear of the government getting in their way. Or that new products and services aren’t shut down by competition looking to win through lobbying politicians rather than proving their value in the marketplace.
Tennessee should create an environment that allows new businesses and innovators to develop and bring their businesses to the market, creating jobs and improving the lives of all. To do so, the state should follow the lead of other states and countries by creating a regulatory sandbox, where entrepreneurs can ensure their new product or service won’t be subject to archaic and onerous regulations that don’t apply well to new technologies. Additionally, Tennessee leaders should look to study and work with industry leaders to ensure Tennessee’s business landscape is ready for new technologies, whether that is drones, autonomous vehicles, or other innovations.
Why can’t Tennessee lead the nation in innovation freedom or be the next Silicon Valley? Or perhaps more importantly, what will our lives look like if we don’t?

Population(s) Served

Beacon believes that Right to Work is so fundamental to our economic success that it deserves constitutional protections. Right to Work should be recognized as a fundamental right, not just the longstanding policy of our state.
First, what is Right to Work? Put simply, workers cannot be fired or penalized for joining or refusing to join a union and paying union dues. Ultimately, it’s about protecting worker freedom. If a person wishes to join a union and pay dues for the union’s representation, he or she has every right to do so. We fully support workers’ ability to make this decision. But if a worker wishes to remain independent and not contribute his or her hard-earned income to union dues, he or she should not be forced to do so. That’s precisely the decision that our Right to Work law protects.
Right to Work has been the policy of our state since 1947, and like other states that have adopted this policy, we have reaped the economic benefits of it. Studies show that Right to Work states have higher real income growth, employment growth, and population growth.
Beacon believes that, along with banning a state income tax and enacting strong tort laws, Right to Work is one of the three most important policies that have led to our state’s economic strength. It should be protected at all costs, and the best way to do that is to elevate it from a state law to a fundamental constitutional right.
A recent poll Beacon conducted shows that our fellow Tennesseans agree. Nearly seven in 10 Tennesseans support our Right to Work law and would vote to place it in the state Constitution. There are currently numerous efforts in Washington, D.C. and neighboring states to ban Right to Work laws. Elevating Right to Work to a constitutional right will help protect Tennessee workers’ freedom against these attacks.
A constitutional amendment process is lengthy but is already underway. In order to give Tennesseans the ability to vote on this, the legislature must pass a resolution first by a simple majority vote, which lawmakers did in 2020. They must they pass the resolution by a two-thirds majority vote in 2021. If they do, it will then be placed on the ballot for voters to decide in the November 2022 election. If this happens, Right to Work will be enshrined in the Tennessee Constitution where it belongs, protecting worker freedom for generations to come.

Population(s) Served

As Beacon seeks to position Tennessee to lead the nation in innovation freedom, one of the biggest hurdles standing in the way is government red tape. Regulations stifle innovation and make it hard for Tennesseans to earn an honest living doing the job they love. While Tennessee is relatively free from onerous red tape, that cannot be said of its regulation in the form of occupational licensing.
The rising tide of government licensing has been drastic over the past half-decade. In 1950, just one in 20 workers required a license or certificate in order to obtain a job. Today, it’s close to 30 percent. Among those careers that now require a license to earn a living are fortunetellers, party planners, florists, shampoo assistants, beekeepers, and librarians—and that just scratches the surface.
Often touted as a means of ensuring public safety and protecting the public from bad actors, occupational licensing has instead often become a weapon to prevent competition in the marketplace. These barriers to entry are arbitrary, destructive to the economy, and fundamentally unfair—especially hurting low-income individuals relying on a particular skill to earn an honest living. These licensing regulations also make it difficult and sometimes impossible for new innovations to come to market.
To start reversing this trend, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a groundbreaking law in 2016. The Right to Earn a Living Act called upon the legislature to review the rules and regulations of state licensing boards and recommend the repeal of any that do not directly pertain to the health, safety, and welfare of the general public. The Right to Earn a Living Act has highlighted the drastic need reform and a plethora of opportunities to roll back government red tape, making it easier for hardworking Tennesseans to find a job or start a business. Since that groundbreaking law, Tennessee has led the nation in licensing reform, repealing more licensing laws than any other state.
But more could be done. We must help the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 get back to work by eliminating the licensing hurdles they face. As Tennessee becomes a magnet for those fleeing other states, we must ensure that they can continue to work by recognizing any license they already hold. And we must eliminate regulations that stifle innovation and prevent new ideas from coming to fruition. Tackling occupational licensing red tape will help make Tennessee the most innovation and job-friendly state in the nation.

Population(s) Served
Low-income people
Working poor
Work status and occupations

With ever the increasing costs of healthcare, Tennesseans are looking for innovative solutions to increase access, improve outcomes and lower costs. While much focus on healthcare is at the federal level, there are many things that can be done right here in our home state. Beacon continues to work with state lawmakers to be incubators of freer market healthcare options for Tennesseans that expand quality and access to patients across the socio-economic spectrum. One example was when, lawmakers repealed more than half of the state’s certificate-of-need laws. These antiquated regulations, which ban providers from investing in services and locations without their competitor’s approval, range from restraints on the number of hospital beds to the number of MRI machines available to patients. Beacon also continues to fight for new alternative delivery models for healthcare, like when the Tennessee General Assembly overwhelmingly passed direct primary care, allowing patients with unaffordable deductibles or those who are uninsured to contract directly with their primary care for an average cost of $30-$50 per month. In doing so, patients across the Volunteer State will now have greater access to essential services and care, while costs decrease as the ceiling expands to new competition in the healthcare marketplace.

Yet, there is still much work to be done. With new horizons coming at the federal level and the recent guidelines issued by the Trump administration regarding work requirements, here’s how the legislature can continue to transform conversations about coverage into real solutions that deliver care:

• Continue to resist a Medicaid expansion of any kind under the current frameworks, instead embracing the following creative approaches to reforming the system.

• Until the Affordable Care Act is repealed or block grants become available, use the 1115 and 1332 Waiver processes to demand more flexibility and state control over the healthcare marketplace. In designing Tennessee’s waiver application, call for mandatory premiums for Medicaid enrollees, mandate work requirements, redefine income to incorporate other forms of government assistance, introduce health savings accounts and direct primary care as optional benefits, and impose lock-out periods for failure to meet these criteria.

• Expand telemedicine and charity care to embrace technology and innovation, which are leading the way towards drastically reducing patients costs while increasing patient access—particularly for those who are low-income or living in rural areas.

• Call for the repeal of the Hospital Assessment Fee (or provider tax) that has been used to artificially spike Medicaid reimbursements from the federal level, allowing hospitals to pass costs along to paying consumers, driving up costs for all Tennesseans.

• Additionally, repeal device and provider taxes in Tennessee’s code permitted through the Affordable Care Act that further increase costs to patients for accessing care.

• Demand more control over the health insurance markets and reduce existing state-level mandates so that Tennessee insurers can begin offering plans that give patients more affordable and customized options that fit their individual needs.

We ask the Tennessee General Assembly to join us in the fight for new opportunities and alternatives for patients suffering from the rising costs and limited access to quality healthcare.

Population(s) Served
Age groups
Working poor
Low-income people

Access to a quality education is the greatest equalizer in society. Every child deserves access to a quality education that best fits their unique educational needs. However, when we continue to rely on a ZIP code to determine a child’s access to education, we trap low- and middle-income families in a system with no options. If a child is zoned for a school that can’t meet their unique needs, that family’s only option is to take the financial responsibility upon themselves find an alternative for that student—a cost barrier that prevents the majority of families across the state from being able to send their child to the school that best suits their needs and prepares them for a bright future.

The Beacon Center believes the state should fund children, not systems. Tennessee began to change that paradigm in 2015 when by passing the Individualized Education Account program (IEAs) for students with special needs—making the Volunteer State just the fourth in the nation to pass these savings accounts (otherwise known as Education Savings Accounts or “ESAs”), considered to be the most state-of-the-art and modernized approach to education reform out there today. We followed that victory with another win for Tennessee families by passing the Course Access Program in 2016—a program that gives public high school students statewide access to course curriculum not offered at their individual school.
We followed that victory with another win for Tennessee families by passing the Course Access Program in 2016—a program that gives public high school students statewide access to course curriculum not offered at their individual school.

Most recently under the leadership of Gov. Lee, Tennessee passed the Education Savings Account program, giving 15,000 children trapped in districts with a concentration of failing schools a real opportunity to achieve a great education, for many the first in their life.

However, much work remains to be done. While our state’s education outcomes have improved, Tennessee continues to rank in the middle of the pack in terms of education outcomes. Here’s how Tennessee can continue to give parents control of their student’s education:

• Expand the Individualized Education Account program’s eligibility to include more students with special needs across the state.

• Allow third-party providers such as universities and trade schools to expand the number of courses offered in the new Course Access Program.

• Expand the Education Savings Account program for students across the state, regardless of their demographic, geographic area, or income levels.

We challenge lawmakers to commit to the above agenda and embrace the changes necessary to expand the horizons of hope for our future generations.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Children and youth
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Media Hits Obtained

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Number of times our work was covered by the media or our team members were quoted or interviewed

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Beacon Center exists to advance the principles of free markets, individual liberty, and limited government in Tennessee. By giving Tennesseans more control over their own lives—whether it's through earning an honest living, making our own healthcare decisions, choosing where to send our kids to school, or keeping more of our hard-earned money—our goal is to make Tennessee the freest, most prosperous state in the nation.on.

By pushing for sound public policy at the state and local level, such as showcasing the benefits of repealing the death tax, empowering parents through school choice, advocating for healthcare freedom, and stopping job killing regulations dead in their tracks, the Beacon Center is truly changing the lives of Tennesseans.

Our team conducts and publishes research into various public policy reforms in the state of Tennessee, and determines the impact they have on Tennesseans' lives.

The Beacon Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee. Some may even call us a think tank. But we do more than closely study important issues. We come up with solutions and show how they impact real Tennesseans by communicating the impact of key public policy issues via our website, blogs, videos, infographics, podcasts, opinion articles, media interviews, and events.

Our research and policy recommendations have resulted in:
• A repeal of the Hall Income Tax on stocks and bonds--making Tennessee just the second state in history to eliminate an income tax--and also eliminated Tennessee's Death Tax, returning more than $2 billion to taxpayers since 2012;
• Stopping an unaffordable and immoral expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, instead enacting free market healthcare reforms such as direct primary care, certificate of need reform, and Right to Try for terminally ill patients;
• Passing Tennessee's first ever school choice program, and enacted a course access program for high school students;
• Enacting the Right to Earn a Living Act, requiring legislative review of all state occupational licensing laws, and successfully repealed multiple licensing laws that stood in the way of Tennesseans' ability to earn an honest living;
• Drastically overhauling the protectionist CON laws and expanding telehealth to give Tennesseans more access to quality healthcare
• Reining in of emergency powers to ensure that the heavy handed government over reach that w saw during the pandemic does not occur again
• Placing Right to Work on the ballot in 2022 so Tennesseans can enshrine it in the state constitution


Beacon Center of Tennessee

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.


Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Beacon Center of Tennessee

Board of directors
as of 09/10/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. John Cerasuolo

Former President & CEO, ADS Security

Term: 2020 - 2023

Board co-chair

Mr. Joe Scarlett

Retired Chairman, Tractor Supply Company

Term: 2019 - 2022

Pat Shepherd

Avondale Partners

Ken Meyer

K12 Management, Inc.

Brian Fitzpatrick


Raul Lopez

Men of Valor

Fred Decosimo


Tina Benkiser

Tina Benkiser Law

John Boike

Eastern Tennessee Subway Development, Inc

Bill Prevost

Paladin Capital

Drew Everett

Bush Brothers & Company

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes