What We Do

The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit research and education organization founded in 1984 that addresses a wide range of public policy issues. We have deep expertise on budget and tax issues, education policy, environmental protection, energy, health care policy, and the rise of socialism. We produce books, policy studies, and shorter publications and send many of them to every national and state elected official in the United States. We have comprehensive communications and government relations programs, as well. More information about these programs appears below.


In addition to a full-time staff of 24, approximately 500 academics and professional economists participate in Heartland’s peer-review process as policy advisors and more than 300 elected officials serve on its Legislative Forum. More than a dozen senior fellows are available to write, speak, or comment in-depth on a wide range of policy issues.


Heartland has published more than two dozen books ranging in length from fewer than 100 pages to more than 1,000 pages, some with circulation of more than 100,000 copies. Heartland has published more than 140 peer-reviewed policy studies and scores of policy briefs, Research & Commentary collections, and booklets. Surveys show 82 percent of state legislators read at least one of Heartland’s publications sometimes or always.

Government Relations

Our government relations staff made nearly 1 million contacts with elected officials in 2019, including 9,091 direct personal contacts and 2,636 face-to-face meetings. These are virtually all educational contacts – we do not lobby. Our government relations staff calls legislators to ask if they need information, are aware of new developments in other states, and if we can send the “best available research” on issues they are coping with.

Media Relations

We produce a constant stream of op-eds, news releases, videos, podcasts, and public events. In 2019, we appeared in print and on television or radio 4,849 times with a combined print circulation of 185 million. Heartland’s podcasts were downloaded 5 million times, and our YouTube videos were viewed 2.6 million times.


We are leaders in online communication, generating almost 2.5 million page views on our websites in 2019. Our Facebook page registered more than 100,000 fans and more than 13.6 million impressions in 2019.

Credibility and Influence

Our decades in public policy, solid research and publications, and repeated communications with state legislators have made Heartland a credible, independent, “go-to” source for thousands of elected officials. A telephone survey of 500 randomly selected state and local elected officials conducted in 2018 by Victory Enterprises found 78% of the state elected officials surveyed read one or more Heartland newspapers “sometimes” or “always”; and 45% reported a Heartland publication “influenced my opinion or led to a change in public policy.””


The Heartland Institute’s influence is not limited to a single political party. The 2018 Victory Enterprises survey showed strong appeal on both sides of the political aisle. Sixty-nine percent of Democratic state legislators recognize The Heartland Institute, 81 percent read one or more Heartland newspapers “sometimes” or “always,” and 36% reported a Heartland publication “influenced or led to a change in public policy.”