The Heritage Foundation

aka THF   |   Washington, DC   |


The mission of The Heritage Foundation is to improve the lives of all Americans by formulating and promoting policies based on America's founding principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual liberty, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

The Heritage Foundation allows you to speak directly to Washington, and say “no excuses" to elected officials who refuse to uphold America's founding principles, and our tradition of limited government. Heritage members help deliver specific, actionable policy solutions to Washington that will once again make America a place where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Kay Coles James

Main address

214 Massachusetts Ave NE

Washington, DC 20002 USA

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NTEE code info

Public Finance, Taxation, Monetary Policy (W22)

Citizen Participation (W24)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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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?

Strengthening the Conservative Movement

Heritage’s Coalition Relations Program: The conservative movement cannot triumph over leftist ideology unless we work together. That’s why Heritage regularly brings the nation’s conservative leaders and public policy institutions together to discuss messaging, policy formulation, and shared goals. Heritage connects state-based policy organizations with like-minded groups, shares research with organizations who need it, and sends our policy experts into key battles at the state level.

The Heritage Foundation participates in more than 50 conferences and 200 coalition meetings each year and hosts even more. In addition to hosting dozens of Washington briefings and training programs, we are also the organizer of the annual Resource Bank meeting, where more than 500 attendees from more than 250 organizations network and strategize to achieve conservative victories.

It is largely because of The Heritage Foundation that over the past four decades the conservative movement has grown to what it is today: a force which, even in the face of heightened cultural and political attacks by the radical left, is more powerful, and possesses deeper intellectual roots, than ever before.

Heritage’s Institute for Constitutional Government: Over decades, America’s constitutional separation of powers has become severely degraded. Congress routinely abdicates its legislative authority to unelected bureaucrats, and the Supreme Court makes decision completely unmoored from constitutional text and the will of the people.

In 2016, Americans fought back by electing a president who vowed to appoint constitutional originalists to the Supreme Court and federal courts – and who used a list of qualified jurists published by The Heritage Foundation to build his own list of potential future nominees. Heritage, through its Institute for Constitutional Government, is continuing to reshape the federal judiciary so that even the most liberal circuits in America are once again in the hands of judges who believe in interpreting the Constitution as written – not as they prefer it were written.

The Institute for Constitutional Government includes Heritage’s esteemed Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. The Meese Center is the chief organizer of what is known as the “freedom-based, public interest legal movement,” a group of allied legal and public interest groups who are dedicated to preserving the rights of individuals in the face of an increasingly progressive and imperial judiciary.

The Institute for Constitutional Government also includes Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics. This is a team of scholars, political historians, and even college and university professors, who research, write, and speak about how to view the complex issues of the day through the lens of America’s founding principles. The Simon Center takes the truth of America’s political heritage to college campuses, to conservative grassroots gatherings, and to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Heritage’s Young Leaders Program: Liberty must be fought for, won, preserved, and defended – which is why, since 1979, The Heritage Foundation has recruited members of the rising generation to carry on this fight. Through our Young Leaders Program, Heritage has educated, developed, trained, and equipped thousands of students and young professionals to defend our nation’s heritage of liberty.

Heritage’s Young Leaders Program includes Heritage’s popular internship program, our outreach on the nation’s college campuses, and our hosting of student groups here at our Washington, D.C. headquarters. As part of our outreach on college campuses, Heritage policy experts lecture, discuss conservative ideas, and introduce students to The Heritage Foundation. When we host college groups here at Heritage, we provide them with briefings on whatever topic they need – from conquering the federal debt to defending marriage.

Heritage’s internship program is designed to give the next generation of leaders the intellectual and practical foundation they need by telling them the truth about America’s founding, educating them about policy solutions that uphold America’s founding principles, and giving them work experience and marketable professional skills.

We then stay in touch with participants of our Young Leaders Program through special alumni activities, contact lists, and special alumni “ambassadors.” This is our way of ensuring that the conservative movement grows, and is full of capable, focused leaders.

Population(s) Served

When the liberty-based ideas of the American founding are heard and understood by the American people – with no distortion from the political left – they
“are truly inspiring.

The Heritage Foundation is always finding new ways to help more Americans to understand why our modern day policy solutions must align with America’s political tradition and the U.S. Constitution. Heritage’s communications strategy includes market research and message testing, targeted print publications, outreach to the mainstream media, news reporting and commentary, and social media.

We know that perceptions of conservatism have changed dramatically over the years, and that there is a focused effort to dilute and mischaracterize our messages. Since 2013, Heritage has addressed this by supplementing its communications strategy with a permanent system of market research. Market research now informs many of our communications with the public – and is shared with our contacts on Capitol Hill (who are eager to see where Americans stand on a particular issue).

The Heritage Foundation has a remarkable presence in the mainstream and alternative media. Our experts publish thousands of commentaries in local, state, and national print media each year. Heritage analysts are also frequently sought-after guests on TV and radio. And according to Forbes magazine, we have a greater presence on social media than any other think tank – conservative or liberal – with 2 million followers on Facebook and more than 500,000 followers on Twitter.

The Daily Signal: The Heritage Foundation operates its own multimedia news organization, The Daily Signal – which can be accessed on, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. The Daily Signal provides timely, relevant policy news of importance to the American people in a compelling way. Through Emmy-nominated articles, videos, and info-graphics, The Daily Signal narrates real life examples of why conservative policies work – and liberal policies fail. The Daily Signal is focused on covering stories that would otherwise go unreported or underreported by the mainstream media. The Daily Signal’s hard-hitting stories on Obamacare’s collapse, the IRS’s targeting of conservative non-profits, and the manufactured debate over transgender bathrooms, are just a few examples of the stories of federal overreach that The Daily Signal has helped bring to light. To date, The Daily Signal has been visited more than 44 million times.

Population(s) Served

Restoring Civil Society
Ordered liberty in America depends upon the very institutions that have been most degraded and devalued by so-called “progressive” policies: stable man-woman marriages, strong families, vibrant religious practice, competitive health care, and locally-controlled schools.

The Heritage Foundation, through its Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, publishes research and analysis that upholds the value of a strong civil society in the face of modern day attacks. We promote the right of all Americans to live, work, and love according to their deeply held beliefs. We promote the right of parents to choose how their children will be educated. We keep before the public the abject failure of Obamacare and give them a vision for a patient-centered, consumer-oriented, health care system. And we show local, private institutions how they can help alleviate poverty rather than relying on government.

One major annual reference work from the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity is Heritage’s Index of Culture and Opportunity. This annual publication tracks whether America is on the right track or the wrong track when it comes to a number of social indicators. The Index of Culture and Opportunity is helping lawmakers understand how their decisions on social policies such as educational choice, welfare, and marriage dramatically impact economic health and opportunity in America.

Population(s) Served

A safe, strong, secure America isn’t just good for the American people; it brings stability to the entire world. This is why administrations that have embraced military weakness, capitulation, and a “lead from behind” strategy have historically left the world a more volatile, dangerous place.

The Heritage’s Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy is focusing lawmakers’ attention on the need to “provide for the common defense” by rebuilding America’s military, securing the border, and ensuring that America can defend herself and her interests on the world scene.

The national security experts and former government and military officials in the Davis Institute produce research and analysis on issues of foreign policy, international relations, defense spending, terrorism, and other aspects of national security. The Davis Institute publishes upwards of 300 major policy papers a year, and regularly convenes working groups of experts and Capitol Hill staff on vital issues.

The Davis Institute is also the author of the game-changing annual Index of U.S. Military Strength, the only reference work of its kinds that measures global threats to the United States and its interests, and of the ability of the U.S. military to meet those threats.

The Trump administration has repeatedly cited and consulted the Index of U.S. Military Strength as it works to rebuild America’s military. Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees also depend on the Index of U.S. Military Strength, as do numerous members of the defense and intelligence communities. Those who use the Index have called it the most complete, understandable, and detailed analysis available of the threats to America’s safety, and our ability to deal with them.

Population(s) Served

Heritage’s Institute for Economic Freedom promotes bold public policies to restore the free market, rein in government spending, and inspire America’s traditional ethic of hard work, investment, and saving. The Institute for Economic Freedom is at the center of a major effort to reshape and dramatically downsize the federal government using annual publications such as its Blueprint for Balance, Blueprint for Reorganization, and Blueprint for Reform policy guidebooks.

Heritage economists are adept at articulating the moral and ethical case of fiscal responsibility and free markets. We are especially concerned with enacting pro-growth tax reform, reducing burdensome and unnecessary federal regulations, and reforming entitlement programs – which now threaten to propel America toward almost certain economic collapse.

One of the most power tools we use to make the case for free markets and limited government is our annual Index of Economic Freedom. The Index, which Heritage has published since 1995, ranks 186 nations on measures of economic freedom, from property rights to ease of entrepreneurship. Over the years, the Index has inspired numerous foreign governments to make policy changes to improve their “freedom score.” Heritage is now working harder than ever to use the Index to encourage the Unites States (which ranks 17th in world when it comes to economic freedom) to make the changes needed to become No. 1.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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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 states that have adopted Education Savings Accounts

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Restoring Civil Society

Context Notes

ESAs are parent-controlled accounts that allow parents to direct public education funds that the state would have spent on their child’s education.

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.

We believe that it is possible to rein in the power and reach of the federal government to within the constraints enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. We believe – because our research shows – that this can be done while still providing the hope and the innovation that Americans expect in the 21st Century.

America can be safe from terrorism and foreign enemies. Families, communities, businesses, and states can live in maximum freedom from interference from government. At The Heritage Foundation, we know this can be accomplished, and we are working to provide Congress and the president with the specific policies needed to do so.

The Heritage Foundation's strategy is simple: Formulate winning policy solutions, get these ideas into the mainstream, and deliver these solutions directly to lawmakers where and when it counts. We believe in shifting the window of what is politically possible, and know that doing so often takes many years. That's why Heritage is a permanent presence on Washington – the belly of the beast – and why we began expanding our multi-facility Freedom Center in 2013.

The Heritage Foundation's greatest capability is our reputation, built over the past 44 years, as a thought leader in Washington, across the country, and within the conservative movement.

We also have the expertise to get the job done. The Heritage Foundation is staffed by more than 100 policy analysts, economists, and scholars – with backgrounds ranging from private sector leaders to former members of the armed forces, CIA staff, high-level government officials, and academics. These great minds publish conservative policy solutions, brief lawmakers on Capitol Hill and candidates for public office, and testify before Congress and state legislatures.

Finally, more than any other think tank, The Heritage Foundation has the tools needed to get our ideas into the mainstream. Heritage has a top-notch team of journalists, market research experts, and communications professionals. This team publishes The Daily Signal, places Heritage analysis and commentary in Heritage's top news outlets, broadcasts our ideas on social media, and blazes new trails in videography and other media.

The Heritage Foundation has had a major impact in recent years. Most recently, Heritage has:
• Saved the Supreme Court from being slanted to the left for decades by making the case against judicial activist judges and for a constitutional originalist like Justice Neil Gorsuch.
• Kept the repeal of Obamacare – and its replacement with patient-centered, free-market reforms – a political imperative. Most recently, Heritage's sharp critique of the American Health Care Act resulted in a better bill that is more in line with free-market principles.
• Changed the debate in Washington on energy subsidies, stopping new subsidies and special interest handouts for all forms of energy, and saw many of recommendations for reorganizing the Department of Energy adopted by the Trump administration.
• Alerted Americans to the weakened state of the U.S. military, and are now informing a historic effort by Congress and the Trump administration to rebuild it.
• Grew the school choice movement exponentially, defended programs such as Arizona's Education Savings Account program, and drummed up record support in Congress for restoring federalism in education.
• Defeated legislative amnesty for illegal immigrants in 2013 by alerting millions of Americans to the economic and social cost of amnesty.
• Made cronyism a major issue for the American people, jeopardizing the future of the Export-Import Bank, the federal farm bill, and more.
• Weakened Obama-era climate initiatives while he was in office, and are now helping eliminate them under Trump.

We realize that there is a tremendous amount of work ahead to restore our nation to the land of freedom and opportunity our Founding Fathers envisioned. The national debt still stands at nearly $20 trillion, cronyism is rampant in the federal government, America's students are struggling to learn in inferior schools, the world is on fire with terrorism and instability, and economic opportunity in America remains out of reach for many.

The Heritage Foundation and its hundreds of thousands of supporters will never stop fighting to restore our federal government to one that performs its core functions, stays within its constitutional limits, and shows favor to none. We do this not out of pride, or nostalgia for a time gone by, but out of an understanding that America is a unique political system that has created more prosperity for more people than any other system the world has ever known. We are truly the world's last, best hope, and a land of opportunity for all.


The Heritage Foundation

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


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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The Heritage Foundation

Board of directors
as of 08/17/2018
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Thomas A. Saunders

Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation

Thomas A. Saunders

Larry P. Arnn

Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan

Midge Decter

Edwin J. Feulner

The Heritage Foundation

Steve Forbes

Forbes Inc.

Jerry Hume

Basic American Inc., San Francisco, California

Kay Coles James

J. William Middendorf

Middendorf and Company, Washington, D.C

Abby Moffat

Nersi Nazari

Vital Connect, Inc.

Robert Pennington

Anthony J. Saliba

ConvergEx Group Chicago, Ill.

William E. Simon

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy International, San Diego, California

Phillip N. Truluck

Barb Van Andel-Gaby


Marion Wells

David R. Brown

Frank Shakespeare

Rebekah A Mercer

Ruby et Violette

Michael W. Gleba

Sarah Scaife Foundation

Mark A. Kolokotrones

Castle Knoll Investments LLC

William L. Walton

Rappahannock Ventures LLC

Ryan Haggerty

Estate of Bert Fields, Jr.

Virginia Heckman

Noble Properties Inc.

Ryan Haggerty

Estate of Bert Fields, Jr.

Edwin Meese III

The Heritage Foundation

Meg Allen

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