State Policy Network (SPN)

The official logo of the State Policy Network (link)



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $13,270,262
Expenses: $12,797,260
Assets: $5,529,538




Tracie Sharp


Think tank umbrella group

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The State Policy Network (SPN) is a network of 167 conservative and libertarian think tanks throughout the United States and Canada. The SPN coordinates efforts to support policy goals, raise funds, and amplify the influence of its members.

The SPN was run by Byron Lamm from its founding in 1992 until 2000. Tracie Sharp, a think tank veteran who established both the Washington Policy Center and Cascade Policy Institute, has been the SPN’s president for the last 20 years. 1

The SPN has close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) with the two organizations sharing many members, and the SPN supporting policies formulated by ALEC and its members.


The State Policy Network has two forms of organizational membership: affiliates and associates. Affiliates are exclusively state-based organizations, while associates are national organizations. As of January 2021, the SPN has 68 affiliates and 99 associates. 2


Thomas A. Roe, a board member of the Heritage Foundation and advisor to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was allegedly inspired to start the State Policy Network after a conversation with President Reagan. He told the president that every state should have its own version of Heritage, and President Reagan replied, “do something about it.” In 1986, Roe founded the South Carolina Policy Council, a conservative think tank. Soon after, he established the Madison Group, an informal periodic gathering of conservative and libertarian think tanks. In 1992, the Madison Group grew into the State Policy Network with 12 founding members. Roe served as the chairman of the SPN’s board until his death in 2000. 3

Policy Goals


The State Policy Network advocates for states to adopt largely deregulatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the elimination of barriers to remote health care provision, an end to interstate medical license restrictions, a temporary tax cut, the removal of teacher union contract provisions that prohibit digital learning, and the implementation of new school-choice measures. However, the SPN does support some new regulations and spending, including requiring schools to provide digital learning to receive state funds, and state provisions to facilitate digital learning access to low-income families. 4


The SPN opposes pro-union labor policies. It has paid particular attention to “dues skimming,” or the practice of state governments automatically giving a portion of government payments (such as Medicaid payouts to individuals providing at-home care to family members) to unions. 5 The SPN supported the plaintiffs in Janus v. AFSCME, which concluded in 2018 with the U.S. Supreme Court determining that government labor unions could not compel non-union workers to pay fees as a condition of continued employment. 6



In 2018, the State Policy Network received $16,815,406 in funding, about a $3.5 million increase over the previous year. 7 In 2017, the SPN and its members generated at least $120 million in revenue. 8

An analysis by the left-wing Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) identified five funders that had contributed $34.1 million from 2014 through 2019. It identified $26.6 million from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, pass-through funds for conservative and libertarian donors. Donors Trust is also an associate member of SPN. Searle Freedom Trust gave $4.2 million to the SPN and an additional $4.5 million to SPN members. The Walton Family Foundation gave $1.7 million to the SPN and an additional $1.2 million to SPN members. 9

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation gave $1.6 million to SPN and an additional $6.5 million to SPN members. 10 The Foundation also partnered with SPN to create the Bradley Freedom Grants Program, which provides grants to SPN member think tanks. In 2020, the Foundation gave $1.25 million through the program. 11

Other SPN donors include the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Thomas W. Smith Foundation, the Roe Foundation, the JM Foundation, the A. P. Kirby Foundation, the Triad Foundation, the Reams Foundation, the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation, the Adolph Coors Foundation, the John William Pope Foundation, the Barney Family Foundation, the National Christian Charitable Foundation, the Armstrong Family Foundation, the Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, and the Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program. 12


The State Policy Network gives grants to some of its members. In 2018, the SPN gave $109,000 to the Independent Institute, $100,000 to the Beacon Center of Tennessee, $84,000 to the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, $66,000 to the Georgia Center for Opportunity, $64,500 to the Goldwater Institute for Public Policy, $53,500 to the Empire Center for Public Policy, $50,000 to the Center of the American Experiment, $50,00 to the Garden State Initiative, $50,000 to the Maryland Public Policy Institute, $45,000 to the Badger Institute, $43,100 to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, $40,000 to the Alabama Policy Institute, along with a dozen smaller grants. 13

Independent Contractors

In 2018, the State Policy Network spent over $1.6 million on contractors. The top firms hired were Emergent Order, Avenue Strategies, the Employment Policies Institute, Morgan Meredith and Associates, and Heartmind Strategies, each of which was paid over $250,000. 14


  1. “History.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 22, 2021.
  2. “The Network.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 21, 2021.
  3. “History.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 22, 2021.
  4. “Coronavirus Solutions: A State-By-State Guide to Addressing the Impact of the Coronavirus.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  5. “Protect Childcare Providers.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  6. “Janus v. AFSCME.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  7. “State Policy Network Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed January 21, 2021.
  8. “Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million.” Exposed by CMD. November 13, 2019. Accessed January 22, 2021.
  9. Armiak, David. “More than 100 Funders of the State Policy Network Revealed.” Exposed by CMD. September 21, 2020. Accessed January 22, 2021.
  10. Armiak, David. “More than 100 Funders of the State Policy Network Revealed.” Exposed by CMD. September 21, 2020. Accessed January 22, 2021.
  11. “Bradley Foundation Expands Investment in State Solutions with Bradley Freedom Grants Program.” State Policy Network. Accessed January 25, 2021.
  12. Armiak, David. “More than 100 Funders of the State Policy Network Revealed.” Exposed by CMD. September 21, 2020. Accessed January 22, 2021.
  13. “State Policy Network Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed January 21, 2021.
  14. “State Policy Network Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed January 21, 2021.

Coalition Members

  1. 1889 Institute (Non-profit)
  2. Acton Institute (Non-profit)
  3. Alabama Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  4. American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research (Non-profit)
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (Non-profit)
  6. Americans for Fair Treatment (Non-profit)
  7. Archbridge Institute (Non-profit)
  8. Arkansas Policy Foundation (Non-profit)
  9. Badger Institute (Non-profit)
  10. Beacon Hill Institute (Non-profit)
  11. Benjamin Rush Institute (Non-profit)
  12. Bill of Rights Institute (Non-profit)
  13. Buckeye Institute (Non-profit)
  14. Center for Education Reform (Non-profit)
  15. Center for Growth and Opportunity (Non-profit)
  16. Center for Independent Employees (Non-profit)
  17. Center of the American Experiment (Non-profit)
  18. Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (Non-profit)
  19. Civitas Institute (Non-profit)
  20. Common Sense Institute (Non-profit)
  21. E Foundation for Oklahoma (Non-profit)
  22. Empire Center for Public Policy (Non-profit)
  23. ExcelinEd (Non-profit)
  24. First Liberty Institute (Non-profit)
  25. For Kids and Country (Non-profit)
  26. Forge Leadership Network (Non-profit)
  27. Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (Non-profit)
  28. Fraser Institute (Non-profit)
  29. Free State Foundation (Non-profit)
  30. Free the People (Non-profit)
  31. Frontier Institute (Non-profit)
  32. Galen Institute (Non-profit)
  33. Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research (Non-profit)
  34. Granite Institute (Non-profit)
  35. Grassroot Institute of Hawaii (Non-profit)
  36. Great Plains Public Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  37. Heineman Foundation for Research, Education, Charitable and Scientific Purposes (Non-profit)
  38. Illinois Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  39. Independence Institute (Non-profit)
  40. Independent Institute (Non-profit)
  41. Jesse Helms Center Foundation (Non-profit)
  42. Leadership Program of the Rockies (Non-profit)
  43. Libertas Institute (Non-profit)
  44. Lincoln Network (Non-profit)
  45. Louisiana Family Forum (Non-profit)
  46. Lucy Burns Institute (Non-profit)
  47. Maine Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  48. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (Non-profit)
  49. Montana Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  50. Moving Pictures Institute (Other Group)
  51. National Tax Limitation Committee (Non-profit)
  52. Nevada Policy Research Institute (Non-profit)
  53. Pelican Institute for Public Policy (Non-profit)
  54. Philanthropy Roundtable (Non-profit)
  55. Pioneer Institute Public Policy Research (Non-profit)
  56. Platte Institute for Economic Research (Non-profit)
  57. Principles That Matter (Non-profit)
  58. Property and Environment Research Center (Non-profit)
  59. Reason Foundation (Non-profit)
  60. Rio Grande Foundation (Non-profit)
  61. Roughrider Policy Center (Non-profit)
  62. School Choice Wisconsin (SCW) (Non-profit)
  63. Show-Me Institute (Non-profit)
  64. Speech First (Non-profit)
  65. Students For Liberty (Non-profit)
  66. Tax Foundation (Non-profit)
  67. The College Fix (Non-profit)
  68. The Fund for American Studies (Non-profit)
  69. The Institute for Humane Studies (Non-profit)
  70. The Leadership Institute (Non-profit)
  71. The New Civil Liberties Alliance (Non-profit)
  72. The Pegasus Institute (Non-profit)
  73. The Policy Circle (Non-profit)
  74. The Prison Fellowship (Non-profit)
  75. The South Carolina Policy Council (SCPC) (Non-profit)
  76. Think Freely Media (Non-profit)
  77. Transcend Together (Non-profit)
  78. Washington Policy Center (Non-profit)
  79. Yankee Institute for Public Policy (Non-profit)
  80. Young Voices (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1992

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $13,270,262 $12,797,260 $5,529,538 $610,799 N $12,849,793 $299,080 $94,799 $478,145
    2016 Dec Form 990 $10,345,444 $10,426,065 $4,903,399 $408,310 N $9,979,962 $247,250 $106,181 $456,120
    2015 Dec Form 990 $9,480,183 $8,794,478 $5,323,739 $644,380 N $9,301,527 $122,297 $57,057 $463,293 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $8,055,213 $7,625,250 $4,857,457 $800,981 N $7,906,149 $101,781 $47,273 $440,800 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $7,543,244 $7,052,579 $4,048,853 $365,552 N $7,445,027 $53,300 $42,151 $499,434 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $8,050,050 $8,471,560 $3,766,649 $551,854 N $7,977,573 $27,705 $40,457 $358,078 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $5,160,138 $5,031,961 $3,938,162 $296,519 N $5,114,279 $16,550 $24,526 $365,932 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    State Policy Network (SPN)

    1655 FORT MYER DR STE 360
    ARLINGTON, VA 22209-3108