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An Overview of Sagamore Institute What defines (and distinguishes) a Heartland Think Tank

Ideas Have Consequences

(1948 book by Richard M. Weaver)

“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

Victor Hugo

“Good ideas are common what’s uncommon are people who’ll work hard enough to bring them about.”

Ashley Brilliant

“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”

Anais Nin

“The ability to convert ideas to things is the secret of outward success.”

Henry Ward Beecher

Table of Contents 2-3....... The Sagamore Story 4........... Our Unique Methodology 5-12..... How a Think Tank Improves Society

5-6.......... How a Think Tank Improves Education

7-8.......... How a Think Tank Builds Safe and Just Communities

9-10......... How a Think Tank Strengthens Civil Society

11-12....... How a Think Tank Promotes Global Trade

13......... Learn More About Our Work 14......... Library of Liberty

Our Story

Our Story

Sagamore Institute is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization – or “think tank.” We borrow our name from the Algonquin word sagamore, which refers to a trusted individual within the tribe to whom the chief would look for wisdom and advice on issues of public concern. It is thus our mission to research and analyze difficult issues, to serve as a meeting place for disparate groups, and to offer wise counsel for a world in progress. “You know, the highest honor an Indiana governor gives is called the Sagamore of



given for wisdom, and public commitment, and a concern for the well-being of others. So, I’d say that Sagamore chose its name well, and is living up to it every day.” Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

We were born in the spring of 2004, but have roots stretching back two decades1, allowing us to blend the energy of a startup with the experience of a more seasoned organization. Our expert network of fellows provides independent and innovative research and analysis to public and private sector leaders, policy makers, practitioners, and the public.We believe that public policy belongs to everyone – not just to those inside Washington’s beltway of Washington, D.C.

Sagamore is proudly headquartered in America’s Heartland. Our location is both convenient and ideal for our convening role.

Several members of Sagamore Institute’s leadership team served at the headquarters of Hudson Institute during its 20-year residency in Indianapolis. 1


Sagamore Institute

Our Story

We are situated at a global crossroads and in a geographic venue full of innovative international corporations, the second largest concentration of non-profits in the nation, a burgeoning immigrant population, a vibrant university system, and an ever-changing civic culture.

Our location also positions us to tap into new resources to solve the most persistent and pervasive challenges we face today. From the nation’s Heartland, we are able to locate, identify, and highlight innovators, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and experts that typically fall outside of the beltway’s field of vision. In communities all across America, real people are solving real problems in new ways, without regard to labels or ideologies. And often, the best ideas come from them - whether they’re in the marketplace or in the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, far too many innovators work in a vacuum. They may be creating new solutions that are improving their condition, yet the lessons they have learned from their experiences aren’t disseminated for the benefit of other communities or the nation. So, good work happens, but it is marginalized, lost, forgotten.

Sagamore Institute helps to correct that problem.We leverage the best ideas and initiatives. We amplify a different way of thinking, doing, and transforming. We fill the gap between pervasive problems and sound solutions - by connecting the best ideas with leaders who can transform them into smarter policy and improved practice.

“The Sagamore Advantage: We Move Ideas into Action.”

“Our main value proposition is moving ideas to action. We do not ask who is for or against certain reforms. We ask how we are going to fix society’s most stubborn problems and sustain our most promising solutions.” Jay F. Hein, Founding President, Sagamore Institute Sagamore Institute


Ideas into Action

Our Unique Methodology

Ideas matter. They can improve the human condition and alter the course of history. As a conventional think tank, ideas are our business. Yet, we’re unconventional in our methodology. We’re not removed from reality and we don’t hypothesize from 30,000 feet. At Sagamore, we’re committed to transforming innovative ideas into real results.We are dedicated to applied research – research that actually puts ideas and theories to test in the real world. We’re in communities, getting our hands dirty, working alongside innovative practitioners, learning from them, and measuring the impact of ideas and theories put into practice. This allows us to gain insight into which prescriptions work, which don’t, and why.

And because we know one size does not fit all in addressing our most persistent societal challenges, we think not only about what’s possible, but what it actually takes to transform good ideas into action that improves the reality of citizens in communities across America. We combine the power of new thinking with the power of effective action to transform our neighborhoods, communities, and nation one idea at a time.

“It’s about coming down from the ivory tower, rolling up your sleeves, and getting to work,” says Amy Sherman, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Faith in Communities


Sagamore Institute

Better Schools

How a Think Tank… Reforms Education

A group of neighbors living in the Herron-Morton area of downtown Indianapolis wanted to transform their neighborhood by offering a unique educational choice to families living there. They wanted to create a charter school that would provide a classical liberal arts college preparatory education to equip students to realize their full intellectual and human potential. To make this possible, they needed a nationally-recognized, highly-credentialed principal with proven experience leading excellent schools. The charter school’s founders identified an ideal leader at an unusual place: a think tank. Sagamore Institute senior fellow Rex Bolinger was formerly Indiana Principal of the Year and later a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation where he advanced school innovation. He combined these pursuits “back home in Indiana” as a Sagamore fellow working to improve the state’s educational landscape. Now as founding principal of Herron High School, Dr. Bolinger assembled a high-quality team of educators and administrators, attracted students from all over the state and helped establish the foundation for the first class of students to enroll in 2006. In merely four years, the school has become one of the state’s highest performing charter schools.

Sagamore Institute


Better Schools

Consider the following academic highlights: 2006-2007 During its first year of existence, students gained three years of growth in language usage and three and a half years of growth in reading.

2007-2008 In its second year, Herron’s students had the highest English scores in Marion County on the ISTEP +. 2008-2009 Herron High School has the highest ISTEP improvement score of any public high school in the entire state of Indiana. 2009-2010 Herron’s excellent reputation grows the student body to 455.

Forty percent of the students at Herron are in advanced placement classes, beating the state standard of 25 percent.

Herron teacher Greg Lineweaver receives a prestigious Milken National Educator Award. He is one of only 57 teachers selected nationwide and is the first Indiana charter school teacher to win this award.

Such accomplishments must be credited to the hard work and capabilities of the students, of course. At the same time, it’s becoming widely understood that school success or failure has a direct connection to the principal’s office. Local school leaders have become the indispensable ingredient in closing the achievement gap and preparing both students and communities to compete in the knowledge economy. Sagamore has formed a unique partnership with the University of Notre Dame and Marian University to develop an entrepreneurial education program to be delivered through business schools. This collaboration follows a Sagamore report on 21st century educational leadership models prepared for the Indiana Superintendant of Public Instruction.


Sagamore Institute

Safer Communities

How a Think Tank… Builds Safe and Just Communities

Criminal justice in the late 1980s and early 1990s featured “get tough on crime” policies that led to historic increases in the American prison population. Many of those prisoners are now being released, and unfortunately, too often they return to a life of crime. Consider this: of the nearly 600,000 prisoners released to communities across the nation each year, about 400,000 of them will be arrested again within three years. This alarming trend has gained national attention in recent years. Federal, state, and local governments, foundations, policy organizations, and social entrepreneurs have launched numerous post-release strategies and support services -- from housing assistance, to mentorship by community leaders, to substance abuse counseling -- to assist re-entry and prevent new crimes. Research shows that steady employment post release is very important in preventing recidivism. The state of Indiana is a national trendsetter in designing strategies to solve the re-entry crisis. Both the administration of Governor Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s office administer re-entry initiatives, the federal government has several grants deployed in the state, and numerous foundations have invested in innovative strategies. Indiana also operates the nation’s first prison facility dedicated exclusively to prisoner re-entry. Sagamore Institute


Safer Communities

Sagamore Institute was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement, to evaluate prisoner re-entry efforts in Marion County. This competitively-bid grant is aimed at reinventing child support policy by increasing employment opportunities for ex-offenders, encouraging reliable child support payments, and promoting the involvement of non-custodial parents with their children after they are released from prison. The grant is also intended to educate the public that rewarding responsibility is cost effective for taxpayers and that it promotes positive behavior that benefits society -parental responsibility. Sagamore has joined Workforce, Inc. in a federally funded demonstration project to provide transitional jobs for formerly incarcerated adults returning to society. Workforce, Inc. hires exoffenders to strip electronic equipment – “Everyone here has a mostly computers – for sales to electronic conviction. And everyone waste recyclers. The innovative recycling works.” project not only creates new “green” jobs Workforce, Inc. program for low-income ex-offenders, it helps participant Andrew King them achieve self sufficiency through Indianapolis Business Journal, February 2010. entrepreneurship.

In addition to these initiatives, Indiana is an active participant in the National Governor’s Association prisoner entry best practices group. This role, combined with the other initiatives described above, form a cluster of innovative best practices that establish Indianapolis as a leading laboratory of prisoner entry strategies. As a consequence of this “bottom up” experience combined with Sagamore’s national policy networks, we are able to help lead the national conversation about what works, what doesn’t, and why in re-entry policy and practice.


Sagamore Institute

Informed Citizens

How a Think Tank… Strengthens Civil Society

Strengthening civil society - that amorphous zone of space which buffers the individual from the state - is a primary mission of Sagamore Institute. Whereas Washington solutions focus on elite opinion and federal government policies, Sagamore’s researchers favor putting citizens at the center of solving America’s most stubborn problems.

Sagamore’s Center on Faith in Communities inspires, educates, equips, and resources faith-based organizations in their efforts to transform communities. The Center conducts applied research to learn best practices and models for addressing a variety of social ills. It also oversees demonstration projects where model programs are operated in specific communities by participating faith-based and community based partners. One such project is Ele:Vate, which is short for Economic Literacy Education: Vital Assets for Transformation & Empowerment. This national initiative helps faith and community-based organizations and urban schools to build financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills among low-income urban youth. Under the direction of Dr. Amy Sherman, this project has garnered national attention and requests for implementation in communities all across the country.

The Ele:Vate project was motivated by twin commitments to economic justice and to an informed and engaged citizenry. Sagamore Institute


Throughout his two terms, President Bush enlarged the compassion agenda each year through such diverse activity as a call to service in response to 9/11, a mentoring children of prisoners initiative to break the cycle of despair and an AIDS initiative in Africa that gave new life and new hope across the continent. Hein’s book will describe the vision, policies and stories of the President’s determined attack on need. Government was reformed to favor frontline charities. Philanthropy was encouraged to support voluntary action. And lives were transformed as a result.

Unfortunately, many Americans lack basic financial life skills. And for many low-income kids, growing up in households where many adults do not build equity through real estate, purchase rent-to-own furniture, use payday advance loans, and shun banks, the need for financial knowledge is even more pressing.

Informed Citizens

Sagamore president and former White House official Jay Hein received a Baylor University fellowship to write a book on President George W. Bush’s compassion agenda. In his first inaugural address, President Bush called on Americans to be citizens, not spectators, in response to the challenges we face in our nation and our communities.

Economics education is at the heart of the project’s mission, but the project not limited to conventional economic theory. Rather, it includes practical teachings of common realities. For example, economic literacy positions people to avoid financial scams, manage credit responsibly, and benefit from participation in the stock market.

Given the recent economic downturn – and the federal response to it – Sagamore understands it’s a decisive time for America’s youth to understand basic economic and entrepreneurial principles, as well as the principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility and the efficiency and fairness of a free-market economy. Ele:Vate opens the door to that understanding in urban communities across the country.


Sagamore Institute

Global Engagement

How a Think Tank… Promotes Global Trade

Although Indiana is the smallest state west of the Allegheny Mountains, it consistently ranks in the top ten of all U.S. states for both industrial and agricultural production. Known as the “Crossroads of America” for having the most interstate highways passing through it, Indiana is becoming a major crossroads with the rest of the world as well. For example, there are over 250 Japanese manufacturing companies currently in Indiana, making it the 3rd ranking state for Japanese investment. Included in this statistic is the fact that Indiana is the only state where three different Japanese car companies have manufacturing operations. This is only one indication that Indiana’s economy is more and more dependent on foreign trade and investment than many of its other Midwestern neighbors. In today’s increasingly globalized society, states like Indiana can no longer question whether to engage with international forces such as trade and investment. Indeed, our present economy and future competitiveness and well-being will be largely determined by how successfully we understand and respond to the world around us.

To advance such engagement, Sagamore has launched a new program called the “Mayors Roundtable on Global Trade” Recognizing that mayors are the lynchpins for new economic

Sagamore Institute


Global Engagement

development and trade in their communities, Sagamore is targeting new research and actions designed to support and bolster the work that mayors do to seek new investment and business opportunities for their communities and states with the rest of the world, but in particular with Asia.

Sagamore also participates in research partnerships around the world that provide unique perspective to international trade and investment. Two such partnerships are with the Zhejiang Academy of Social Sciences (ZASS), the premiere research institution located in Indiana’s sister-state of Zhejiang Province, China, and with the Tochigi Prefectural Government in Tochigi, Japan, the sisterstate of Indiana. These collaborations are focused on promoting investment and trade between Indiana and both locations through new information describing the attractions, customs, ways of doing business and business opportunities that each side has to offer the other.

State and local governments come and go, business and non-profit leaders move on, and each may have different priorities. Sagamore Institute is a constant. We record history, serve as a neutral observer, and provide pertinent and timely information and analysis so local and state officials and leaders can make informed decisions as they engage and do business in a world in progress.


Sagamore Institute

Learn More About Our Work To learn more about our extensive body of work, please visit our website at’ve designed our website to provide an easily accessible entry to Sagamore’s story with an invitation to dig deeper based on individuals’ unique preferences. The Sagamore menu starts with our franchise value proposition: a Heartland-based think tank that seeks to move ideas into action. We subdivide our research in three primary categories: our commitment to place (America’s Heartland); non-government solutions to society’s challenges (citizenship strategies); and innovative policy reform. Our web content is largely organized via these three portals with our myriad initiatives, programs and projects presented in a “drill down” fashion. Our website also contains the Sagamore Library. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of Sagamore’s research and publications, including briefing papers, opinion pieces, speeches, and the latest research reports generated by Sagamore’s researchers. Also included are conference and event proceedings, transcripts of lectures we have held, and audio recordings of selected events. All of these publications may be searched by topic, author, and/or title.

Sagamore Institute


Library of Liberty Enhancing our intellectual capital offerings beyond the website, Sagamore received a generous gift from the Liberty Fund including 300+ volumes published as part of the Fund’s Library of Liberty series. This special collection is housed at our headquarters and contains classic books about individual liberty. These texts go back some 4,000 years and cover the disciplines of economics, history, law, literature, philosophy, political theory, religion, war and peace. Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. It was founded in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indianapolis businessman and lawyer, with the mission of encouraging a deeper understanding of the requisites for restoring and preserving the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. For more information, visit


Sagamore Institute

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“New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!”

Arthur C. Clarke

“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas, and throw the bad ones away.”

Dr. Linus Pauling

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death.”

John F. Kennedy

“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with selfcriticism, have brought me to my ideas.”

Albert Einstein

“Capital isn’t that important in business. Experience isn’t that important.You can get both of these things.What is important is ideas.”

Harvey S. Firestone

1630 N. Meridian Street, Suite 450 • Indianapolis, IN 46202 Main Phone (317) 472-2050 • Fax (317) 925-0679

Sagamore Institute Overview  

What defines (and distinguishes) a Heartland Think Tank

Sagamore Institute Overview  

What defines (and distinguishes) a Heartland Think Tank