A New Progressive Think Tank Dawns in Arizona

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White Hat Research and Policy Group Executive Director Damiàn Preciado announcing the release of the groups’ first paper on Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA Vouchers)

Hoping to become the counterweight to the conservative brain trust, the Goldwater Institute, Arizona progressives have launched a new Arizona focused think tank called The White Hat Research and Policy Group.

This new think tank, growing out of assisting the buildup of local Democratic party and legislative district infrastructure has the dual purpose of becoming an intellectual counterpoint to conservative organs like the Goldwater Institute and to provide long term guidance and perspective on progressive goals.

At this time, White Hat (named so people will recognize the symbolism of the good guys), according to its research coordinator (and fellow Blog for Arizona writer) David Boyles, is a “very small volunteer-run organization that will connect the academic with non academic community, partnering with a lead researcher and support with fellowship program” that will provide monetary support. Lead researchers will hold PhD’s and research fellows will possess graduate degrees. They are looking to partner with other not for profit academic and civic-minded organizations. They hope to complement other progressive advocacy groups like the Arizona Center for Economic Progress.

For now, the organization is tasked with researching six domestic (Arizona based) policy areas: Education, Technology and Innovation, Civic Engagement, Criminal Justice, Human Services, and Economic Development. They hope to publish two papers a year and eventually integrate the six domestic areas in its coverage.

White Hat has already published its first paper on School Vouchers and is developing one on charter school regulation. A paper on suicide prevention is being developed.

In the hopes of helping to shape and guide policy in Arizona, their audience includes members of Arizona’s academia and the political arenas as well as the general public. While primarily based in the Phoenix market, they want to expand their outreach into other parts of Arizona including Tucson and Flagstaff.

Arizona is evolving into a purple and more bluish state. For it to sustain this evolution, progressives need idea factories like the White Hat, the Arizona Center for Economic Progress and others to help develop, promote, sustain, and reinvigorate the progressive vision. That is how the Progressive Movement in the Republican and Democratic party flourished in the early 20th Century. That is how the Conservative counterpoint to Progressivism gained steam in the 1970s and ’80s. It is how the New Democratic Third Way movement developed in the 1990s and afterward. It is how the new Progressivism will solidify itself now in Arizona and elsewhere.

For more information on White Hat, please visit their website.

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