The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

Company details

3939 North Wilke Road , Arlington Heights , Illinois 60004 USA
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Business Type:
Professional association
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Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)
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The Heartland Institute is one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks. It is a national nonprofit research and education organization based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

We are an “action tank” as well as a “think tank,” and we measure our success by the impact we have in the real world. The Heartland Institute plays an essential role in the national (and increasingly in the international) movement for personal liberty and limited government. We are the pipeline between the freedom movement’s leading writers and thinkers and the nation’s 8,400 national and state elected officials.

Because we are effective, we have been the subject of unfair criticism and even libel by various liberal advocacy groups, elected officials, and even Wikipedia. Please see the “Reply to Our Critics” page where we answer our critics and set the record straight. We hope you will defend us, when you can, in the comments fields of websites that defame us and in conversations with friends and colleagues.

A full-time staff of 39 works with a 12-member Board of Directors, some 5,500 donors, some 500 academics and professional economists who serve as Policy Advisors, 33 senior fellows, and 275 elected officials who pay dues to serve on our Legislative Forum.

The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit organization recognized as a tax-exempt charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We are nonpartisan and most of our work is strictly educational. We very rarely lobby, and when we do, we follow strict guidelines.

We focus on issues in education, environmental protection, health care, budgets and taxes, and constitutional reform. Heartland sends three monthly policy newspapers – Budget & Tax News, Environment & Climate News, and School Reform News – to every national and state elected officials in the United States and thousands of civic and business leaders. We also produce books, policy studies, booklets, podcasts, and videos.

In 2017, Heartland spokespersons appeared in print and on television or radio 4,700 times with a combined print circulation of 103 million readers. We hosted 15 websites generating more than 1.4 million pages views, and our podcasts were downloaded 2.4 million times in 2017.

Heartland hosts an online database and search engine called PolicyBot containing the complete text of (not just links to) more than 32,000 reports and commentaries from some 300 free-market think tanks and advocacy groups.

Heartland hosted 43 events in 2017, attended by 2,208 people, total viewers online 32,671. We have hosted 12 International Conferences on Climate Change since 2008 attended by more than 5,000 people.

The Heartland Institute was founded in Chicago in 1984 by David H. Padden (1927 – 2011) and Joseph L. Bast. Padden served as chairman and CEO for the organization’s first ten years and then as a member of the Board of Directors until his passing in 2011. Bast served as executive director during those first ten years and then as president and CEO ever since.

A detailed history of The Heartland Institute can be found here. In 2005, Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast wrote a two-part history of Heartland for the organization’s newsletter, then titled The Heartlander. They can be found here and here. Two videos also have been produce telling the story of Heartland’s founding and growth over the years. The first video, below, was created in 2009 to celebrate Heartland’s 25th anniversary, and the second video, also below, captures a presentation in 2016 by Joseph Bast on the organization’s founding, mission, and programs.