Roosevelt Institute Campus Network

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The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network Roosevelt logo.gif
Motto Engaging, empowering and promoting the next generation of leaders through progressive policy.
Formation 2004
Type Public policy think tank
Headquarters 570 Lexington Ave
Location New York City, NY 10022
National Director
Joelle Gamble

The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, formerly the Roosevelt Institution, is the first student-run policy organization in the United States.[1] It is a part of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, an organization with offices in New York, NY, Washington, DC, and Hyde Park, NY, focused on carrying forward through new leaders and ideas the values and spirit that Franklin and Eleanor brought to the last century. Roosevelt currently[when?] has 8,500 active members and over 80 established chapters both in the United States and abroad.

Individual chapters on college campuses conduct research and write policy regarding various public issues. It is the first student-run policy research group or think tank in the United States.[1][2]

Roosevelt was founded at Stanford University and Yale University following the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election.[3] Its name is a counterpoint to the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford.[4]


The Roosevelt Institution, now The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, was founded in 2004 by disillusioned young progressives seeking a stronger voice in American policymaking. Quinn Wilhelmi, one of the organization's founders, often told students that "the three pillars of politics are money, bodies, and ideas." When asked for money, young citizens gave what little they could; and when asked for bodies they joined protests, voter-registration drives, and neighborhood canvasses to get out the vote. But no one ever asked them for ideas. And while money and bodies put politicians in power, the war of ideas is waged between elections through public policy.

Soon after the '04 election, Kai Stinchcombe was trying to figure out what to do next. He had toiled for the Kerry presidential campaign alongside countless young politicos, and yet the election offered little reprieve; they remained just as passionate the day after the election as they had been the day before, except now they lacked something to do. So he returned to Stanford and emailed a few list-servs suggesting they form a progressive student think tank to fight the influence of Stanford's conservative Hoover Institution. The email soon reached Dar Vanderbeck at Bates College and Jessica Singleton at Middlebury and they responded, proposing that such an organization could exist on campuses across the country. This suggestion proved prophetic when a student revealed that his friend Jesse Wolfson had just launched a similar project at Yale. Kai called Jesse and the two groups joined forces.

These pioneers had realized that college campuses were brimming with innovative policy analysis, but unlike the powerful "think tanks" that proactively market to policymakers, students' ideas weren't reaching anyone. Or, as Roosevelt's founders put it: "Colleges are already effectively think tanks -- just not effective think tanks". From that playful observation grew a resonant call to action and the nation’s first (and only) student think tank was born. These students would not be advocates of others’ ideas, but generators of new solutions for classic problems. With the same fervor they brought to the campaign trail, a new generation of progressives and informed problem-solvers were preparing to storm the nation’s political stage.

Growing Up[edit]

The fledgling network grew quickly and organically. Chapters experimented with both policy ideas and organizational structures and shared their best practices online. Students were excited to collaborate with other schools and small envoys began traveling between campuses. As the national infrastructure evolved, a team of logistical staff emerged to help coordinate inter-chapter operations and leading student policy wonks helped their peers shape raw arguments into meaningful proposals.

The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI) awarded the Roosevelt Institution its first major endorsement and a blessing from the Roosevelt family. "We’ve been waiting for you for fifty years,” they told the young social entrepreneurs. This relationship opened many doors and the Roosevelt Institution's advisory board swelled with enthusiastic leaders in politics, business, and academia. Gradually, the press took notice of this unusual student groundswell and coverage from major media outlets helped drive waves of new chapters.

Emboldened, students planned the network's most ambitious projects to date: publishing a world-class student policy journal, and gathering all the chapters face-to-face for a first national conference. However, these endeavors would require resources far beyond the organization's existing capacity. So they officially incorporated, learned how to fundraise, hired a few full-time staff, and opened an office. Within months the Roosevelt Review was heading to print and FERI had agreed to host the conference on FDR's family estate in Hyde Park, NY. The Roosevelt Review became the first tangible proof that the organization could fulfill its central promise, and the pilgrimage to Hyde Park became the cornerstone of Roosevelt's annual traditions.

Though Roosevelt's policy model initially favored extended in-depth research, it soon evolved to include more succinct legislative proposals that cater to busy politicians and staffers. In 2006 Roosevelt even experimented with narrowing the scope of its agenda by voting on three annual "Roosevelt Challenges": improving socio-economic diversity in higher education, making America works for working families, and increasing energy independence. Students' strategies to address these challenges were published in the 25 Ideas series.

In 2007, the Roosevelt Institution marked a critical milestone by merging with the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Student leaders recognized that their organization had outgrown college dorm rooms and deserved support from a professional staff with greater experience and resources. Although students would continue to lead the campus network, FERI would provide invaluable institutional support and learned guidance. This devoted partnership is still realizing its full potential and has helped insure the Roosevelt Institution's longevity.

Roosevelt Today[edit]

Roosevelt's structure has gradually stabilized. In the early years, students took time off from school to staff the Roosevelt Institution. Today, there are six full-time recent graduates working in the New York City office, with support from the FERI employees.

There are now six national policy centers that are consistent year-to year: defense and diplomacy, economic development, education, equal justice, energy and environment, and health care. Each center has a lead strategist who is responsible for working with individual students on policy ideas, writing preemptive policy analyses on national legislation, and guiding the organization’s policy focused initiatives.

Students' work continues to be published in several collections including the 10 Ideas series, Roosevelt Rx, and Catalyst: Journal of Energy and Environmental Policy. And the acclaimed Roosevelt Summer Academy is entering its fourth successful year. With chapter membership booming, it's clear that students remain drawn to, and inspired by, the founders' original vision.

A host of young leaders have contributed to this mission, and they've expanded the organization from a few loosely affiliated schools to the nationwide constellation that The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network boasts today.

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline[edit]

The Roosevelt Institute officially launched Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline in June 2011.

Roosevelt Pipeline Official Logo
Pipeline official logo.

The Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline is a new way for young professionals to connect to the progressive movement that empowers and provides exciting opportunities such as creating change in their communities, inserting ideas into the political dialogue and building a strong network. Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline members participate in a broad range of activities, including national fellowships, training opportunities, social events, speaker series, media placements, and Think Impact programming in addition to local engagement and change-making.

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellows Program[edit]

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline establishes infrastructure for young professionals to advance the progressive movement by creating change as thought leaders and activists on a local and national stage. To achieve this mission, Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline is committed to identifying and empowering a group of young change-makers to impact the political dialogue and create progressive change through the Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellows Program.

The Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellows program is designed to provide a platform capable of launching the careers of young progressive thought leaders and activists through media training, publishing opportunities, direct mentorship from leading progressives in their field, connections to leaders in their communities, outlets for local leadership, and a place on the national stage as a writing and media fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. This platform will be a stage from which a young professional can advance their unique perspective on an issue, promote their innovative ideas for progressive change and amplify their voice as a progressive change-maker.

Think Impact Policy Model[edit]

Think Impact encourages student to create policy with impact in mind. Think Impact brings ideas born at The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network to practical fruition in communities and society by providing a framework and grants to advance ideas. One recent Think Impact project provided Wesleyan University students the opportunity to pursue the development of a magnet high school in the town of Middletown, Connecticut. Think Impact does two things: it re-articulates the goals of Roosevelt, to create change in our communities and society, and gives students a concrete and progressive framework to do so.

Think 2040[edit]

Think 2040, launched in early 2010, is a project of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network that empowers the Millennial Generation to be the bold visionaries of their own time.

Think 2040 logo

Beginning with conversations across the country in the spring of 2010, Think 2040 engaged and engages Generation Y on the issues they care about, challenging them to think boldly and deeply about what it will take to realize their vision. In launching Think 2040, Roosevelt has partnered with various organizations both in D.C. and across the United States to garner data and corrall support. As the conversation continues, participants are encouraged contribute their insights to the Blueprint for the Millennial America, a groundbreaking report that seeks to reshape the debate about America's future. The Blueprint is currently being developed by Roosevelt staffers and Summer Academy fellows and is expected to be fully conceptualized and presented in late 2010.

On Campus[edit]

Each individual chapter of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network consists of a number of policy centers, in which students interested in a given topic can join together and share research, ideas, and resources. Policy centers at each chapter are assisted by a central student leadership, typically a President and Vice President.

In New York City[edit]

A national staff in New York City supports the work of the campus network. There are usually five or six individuals in the office. Currently, there is a national director (Taylor Jo Isenberg) who is largely in charge of the growth and development of the network. The field director (Winston Lofton) and deputy field director (Joelle Gamble) manage the regional staffers, part-time paid students. The policy director (Alan Smith) and deputy policy director (Lydia Bowers) are in charge of policy initiatives, and legislative work as well as managing a team of senior fellows, also full-time students that are paid for part-time work. The Chapter Services Coordinator (Dante Barry) runs the Summer Academy program. The national staff oversees publications, the development of the alumni network, and provides opportunities for membership to participate in writers' conferences and initiatives. During the summer, the Roosevelt Academy (the Campus Network's major internship program) runs for ten weeks and places students in DC organizations and at various organizations within the city of Chicago and New York City. The program features a variety of presentations from students who have published work in the 10 Ideas series and the Roosevelt Review, and is the launching ground for the Institution's policy agenda for the upcoming year.

The Roosevelt Summer Academy[edit]

The Roosevelt Summer Academy prides itself in replacing traditional intern duties like making coffee or photocopies with legitimate professional responsibilities like marking up legislation or running conferences. Academy interns receive stipends to work full-time at prestigious think tanks and other institutions serving the public interest in Washington, DC, Chicago and New York City. The Academy adds a complementary training curriculum and weekly networking events to create an integrated program of leadership development. The objective of the program is to bring new, diverse, and progressive voices into the political process. The program runs for 10 weeks from June to August.

As of 2012, Roosevelt ran three concurrent programs: The Washington Academy, The Chicago Academy and The New York City Academy. The Washington Academy placed twenty students at the Roosevelt Institution's national office as well as at organizations such as the Center for American Progress, the Economic Policy Institute, the AFL-CIO, National Security Network, NDN, and Center for Community Change. The Chicago Academy placed ten students with different Chicago City Agencies where they worked on energy and environmental policy in an urban setting.


The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network hosts a conference each summer for incoming chapter leaders held in collaboration with the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute at the FDR estate, Hyde Park, New York. In the past, the program featured a variety of presentations from students who have published work in the 10 Ideas series and the Roosevelt Review, and is the launching ground for the Institution's policy agenda for the upcoming year.

In addition, the Campus Network hosts policy conferences in each of its regions.

Current Publications[edit]

The Roosevelt Review[edit]

Roosevelt Review

The Roosevelt Review is Roosevelt's general policy journal. Unlike the 10 Ideas series, very few proposals were published in the Review, and the papers go into much more detail. The Review was distributed nationally to government agencies as well as advocacy groups, and was published at the end of every summer. The fourth annual issue was released in 2011.

10 Ideas[edit]

The 10 Ideas publication series is The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network's primary vehicle for presenting policy ideas to legislators, Congress, communities, and the nation. It presents the 10 best ideas of student thinkers at The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network in health care, energy & the environment, education, equal justice, defense & diplomacy, and economic development as legislative briefs for maximum impact and resonance. The 10 Ideas series allows student thinkers to demonstrate their awareness of legislative issues and details, and present clear steps to implement innovative solutions to societal problems.

Roosevelt Rx[edit]

Roosevelt Rx focuses exclusively on student policies for health care. It was divided into the broad "Issues" section, and the policy-oriented "Ideas" section. It garnered praise from the leadership of the American Public Health Association and American Medical Student Association, among others. It put the Millennial Generation at the forefront of a vibrant debate on Capitol Hill and the entire country today.

Catalyst: Journal of Energy and Environmental Policy[edit]

Catalyst: Journal of Energy and Environmental Policy is a Roosevelt Institute Campus Network publication that includes summaries for policymakers, articles, and book reviews. It publishes under the tagline, "Sound science leads to sound policy." In the past, articles have argued for a "Federal Regulatory Strategy for Solar Power" and provided an "Analysis of Cap-and-Trade" for policymakers. Many articles are immediately relevant to legislation making its way through Capitol Hill today.[5]

Historical Publications[edit]

25 Ideas for Working Families

25 Ideas[edit]

25 Ideas is a set of 25 two-page policy proposals in three challenge areas. The most recent ideas publications were in the areas of Energy, Working Families, and Diversity in Higher Education. The three booklets are produced through the summer between academic school years.

Review of Policy Research[edit]

The Roosevelt Institution and the Policy Studies Organization released a special issue of Review of Policy Research with work from eight Roosevelt fellows. The issue was Roosevelt exclusive, and focused on both domestic and international poverty.

Campus Network Locations[edit]

The Campus Network itself is divided into five regions: Mid-Atlantic/International, Northeast, South, Midwest, West.

Advisory Boards[edit]

Roosevelt has a number of prominent individuals who have offered themselves as resources to the initiative. They assist in organization, feedback with ideas, and introductions with policymakers. Besides the three listed below, advisory groups for business and organization exist.

National Advisory Board[edit]

Robert Reich of the Roosevelt National Advisory board, as Secretary of Labor

Academic Advisors[edit]

Roosevelt Academic advisers come from many different colleges, universities, and think tanks. They include, in a partial list:

Political Advisers[edit]

Roosevelt political advisers share the benefit of their political experience with the Institution. They include, in a partial list:


In 2008, the Roosevelt Institution merged with the Roosevelt Institute, and is now known as The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network.


  1. ^ a b Falcone, Michael, "Hoping to Make Policy Waves, and Graduate, Too." The New York Times, May 25, 2005.
  2. ^ Murphy, Dave, "STANFORD. Progressive students start new think tank; Roosevelt's goal is to pool expertise, offer policy papers The organization's national infrastructure connects the products of that research to the policy process through publications and the media." San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2005
  3. ^ Murphy, Ryan G. "THE NATION; Collegians Pool Their Ideas in New Think Tank; A public policy center that has branched out from Stanford launches a journal to put student research in the mix. It has since expanded to over 7000 members from 75 chapters from schools in the United States and Europe." Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2005, page A 26
  4. ^ [1] vanden Heuvel, Katrina, "Sweet Victory:Taking Back the Campuses." Editor's cut, The Nation, March 18, 2005
  5. ^

External links[edit]