WASHINGTON—The Heritage Foundation announced Monday that it has selected the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy as a recipient of the Heritage Innovation Prize. The organization will receive a $150,000 award in support of its efforts to advance parental rights and empower Virginia families to make their own education choices.
The institute helps lead the Virginia Education Opportunity Alliance, a vast coalition of groups assembled to promote parental rights in education. The coalition is focused on advancing parental rights in Virginia by creating statewide support for increased education choice, curriculum and funding transparency, and improved privacy for children within the commonwealth’s education system. Thomas Jefferson Institute is focused on making substantial strides in these areas over the next three years.
Heritage President Kevin Roberts released a statement on the institute’s award:
“As a lifelong educator, I can say from firsthand experience that nothing is more important to the long-term health of our republic than properly educating the next generation. However, too many schools across this country are failing to accomplish this task. What’s happening in Virginia right now, though, gives me hope for the future. The Thomas Jefferson Institute and the rest of the VEOA are doing what must be done to ensure that Virginia’s children are able to receive the education they deserve and that their parents are empowered to make those choices for them. These decisions do not belong to bureaucrats and should not be dictated by zip code—they belong to us as parents. We all must continue to fight for that simple truth.”
Chris Braunlich, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute, also released a statement:
“This Heritage Innovation Prize provides a unique opportunity for our coalition to jump-start the Education Choice movement in Virginia, where it has lain moribund for decades. While the public has long viewed Virginia’s public school system as superior, the pandemic and the subsequent public school shutdowns tore the curtain away from what had been hidden for so long, exposing the fragility of the system. Quite literally, generations of children in underperforming school systems have had no choices for decades and, as a consequence, no future. The Heritage Innovation Prize provides us an opportunity to inform and educate current and future generations about what their opportunities could be—and to help them get it. The Virginia Education Opportunity Alliance is a coalition of more than 80 choice advocates who are saying ‘the time has come. No more excuses.’ We are incredibly grateful to the Heritage Foundation for its investment in our program, and the future of thousands of Virginia schoolchildren.”
The Heritage Innovation Prize recognizes and provides substantive financial awards totaling up to $1 million annually to results-oriented nonprofits for projects involving research, litigation, education, outreach, or communications, particularly those focused on empowering parents in education, holding Big Tech accountable, countering the threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), securing America’s borders and reducing crime, ensuring free and fair elections, reducing the growth of spending and inflation, and promoting life and family formation.
The winners of the first-ever Heritage Innovation Prize earlier this year were Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), and the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF). Each organization received $100,000, sponsored by The Heritage Foundation’s robust endowment fund for innovative conservative projects.