2023 Innovation Prize Winners

2023 Innovation Prize Winners

The Heritage Foundation established the Innovation Prize in 2022 to recognize and advance innovative projects, bold strategies, and creative policy solutions to the most pressing issues facing America. The prize is intended to spark creative disruption in the conservative movement as we strive to ensure the future of American self-governance.

>>> The Heritage Foundation Awards New Innovation Prizes

Congratulations to the following 2023 winners:


Topic: Protect Unborn Life and Family Formation
Project: National Center for Black Family Life
Website: communio.org

Communio is launching the National Center for Black Family Life in partnership with Dr. Linda Malone-Colon of Hampton University to strengthen marriage and renew the black family in America. It has developed an approach that uses churches to nourish the institution of marriage across the country. In partnership with Hampton University, a historically black university in Hampton, VA, the Center launched in 2023 to reverse the trend of fatherless parenting; decrease the number of single people engaging in behaviors that mar the likelihood of successful marriages; increase total marriages; decrease total divorces; and increase attendance in black churches. 

National Association of Scholars (NAS)

Topic: Counter the Threat of Communist China
Project: Corrupting the Classroom: Confucius Classrooms and the CCP’s Infiltration of American K-12 Education
Website: nas.org

In 2015, NAS successfully countered the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to undermine American national security and influence education by conducting research on how the Confucius Institutes were infiltrating higher learning to serve CCP interests and promote CCP values. NAS’s investigation resulted in a shutdown of 105 out of 108 Confucius Institutes, as well as regulation requiring accountability for overseas funding into higher ed. NAS is now turning to the CCP’s latest efforts: the Confucius Classrooms. These educational programs are aimed at K-12 students and operated in partnership with schools across the U.S. The public knows little about the extent of the CCP’s influence in K-12 education—but they will soon, thanks to this project.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA)

Topic: Protect Unborn Life and Family Formation
Project: Preserve and Empower Oklahoma Families Initiative
Website: ocpathink.org

OCPA has integrated into its core focus areas a commitment to family policy that defends and promotes the nuclear family as the basic unit of society. For OCPA, this expansion is critical since the success of its other efforts depends on strong families. OCPA’s Preserve and Empower Oklahoma Families Initiative focuses on protecting religious liberty, promoting the success sequence, engaging with faith leaders within the state, and advocating for policies that put the nuclear family at the center of society. From passing legislation that defends and advances the family to disseminating educational content for citizens and lawmakers, this initiative aims to reposition the nuclear family as the most powerful force in Oklahoma’s culture and public policy-making process. 

Speech First

Topic: Promote Leadership Development and Prepare for 2025
Project: Strategic Litigation Free Speech Project
Website: speechfirst.org

University policies designed to curtail constitutionally protected speech are spreading to campuses across America. Through strategic litigation, Speech First challenges policies such as Bias Reporting Systems (BRSs), harassment policies that target constitutionally protected speech, and other campus policies that regulate or monitor students’ First Amendment rights. To date, Speech First has dismantled unconstitutional speech policies in the Fifth, Sixth, and Eleventh U.S. Circuits, and is the only organization successfully challenging initiatives like BRSs and speech-targeting harassment policies through litigation. With the Biden Administration’s proposed Title IX Rules threatening to give universities the federal mandate they need to compel the use of gender pronouns set to be released soon, decisive litigation from Speech First is needed more than ever. 

Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC)

Topic: Counter the Threat of Communist China
Project: China Studies Program
Website: victimsofcommunism.org

Since 2015, the China Studies program of VOC has become one of the world’s foremost authorities promoting a fact-based narrative about the CCP to help people understand the profound threat of communism in China and throughout the world. The program conducts critical, high-impact research on the CCP’s human rights atrocities and counters its global efforts to undermine freedom and the rule of law. VOC promotes their research through major events and media campaigns, advocates and educates lawmakers and the public in tandem with network partners, and helps to change state laws and national policies.