Roosevelt Institute Campus Network
|Motto||Engaging, empowering and promoting the next generation of leaders through progressive policy.|
|Type||Public policy think tank|
|Headquarters||570 Lexington Ave|
The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, formerly the Roosevelt Institution, is the first student-run policy organization in the United States. It is a part of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, an organization with offices in New York, NY, Hyde Park, NY and Chicago, IL focused on carrying forward through new leaders and ideas the values and spirit that Franklin and Eleanor brought to the last century. As of Fall 2014, Roosevelt has over 115 established chapters in 25 states.
Individual chapters on college campuses conduct research and write policy regarding various public issues. In addition, chapters use Roosevelt's unique form of policy as a tool for sustainable systematic change in local communities across the country. Roosevelt also runs a paid summer internship program, publishes a yearly undergraduate journal series and undertakes state specific policy work, most recently in Illinois.
- 1 History
- 2 Growing Up
- 3 Roosevelt Today
- 4 Think Impact Policy Model
- 5 Rethinking Communities
- 6 On Campus
- 7 The Roosevelt Summer Academy
- 8 Conferences
- 9 Current Publications
- 10 Historical Publications
- 11 Campus Network Locations
- 12 References
- 13 External links
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.
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's structure has gradually stabilized. In the early years, students took time off from school to staff the Roosevelt Institution. Today, there are nine full-time staff members working in the New York City & Chicago offices, in addition to over 20 paid student staff members across the country.
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 the 10 Ideas series. And the acclaimed Roosevelt Summer Academy is entering its sixth successful year. With chapter membership booming, it's clear that students remain drawn to, and inspired by, the founders' original vision.
Think Impact Policy Model
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.
In 2013 Roosevelt undertook its most recent project, Rethinking Communities. A nationwide effort to reimagine the economic development, civic infrastructure, and public health and environment of the communities in which we live, work and go to school. The initiative emerged from Roosevelt's commitment to collective engagement and action on what their network believes to be key issues of our time - the rise of economic and political inequality. Chapters across the network are undertaking school and city specific projects to explore the role of anchor institutions in fostering economic development and equity.
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.
The Roosevelt Summer Academy
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.
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.
The 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.
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
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.
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
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
The Campus Network itself is divided into five regions: Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, South, Midwest, West.
- Falcone, Michael, "Hoping to Make Policy Waves, and Graduate, Too." The New York Times, May 25, 2005.
- 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
-  vanden Heuvel, Katrina, "Sweet Victory:Taking Back the Campuses." Editor's cut, The Nation, March 18, 2005