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Citizens at
the Center

The American Experiment turned the course of history by placing power in the hands of citizens rather than government action or monarchy. It is up to every generation to protect this privilege and to carry out our duty of citizenship to create a more perfect union. Whereas most think tanks focus on the state, Sagamore’s priority been to build better citizens and to enliven civil society at home and abroad.  

Renewing the American Idea

Ideas matter.  And perhaps more than any other country, ideas have shaped America’s institutions and its national identity.  Sagamore’s policy journal American Outlook produced a volume titled Renewing the American Idea to make the case for civic literacy, to celebrate Indiana’s national civic treasures (Liberty Fund, Remnant Trust), to preserve Constitutional government and to recall Abraham Lincoln and Ben Hur in Indiana history.

Bill Bennett and American History

Former US Secretary of Education William J. Bennett is the author of a three volume set of American history books titled “America: The Last Best Hope.”  He established a partnership with Sagamore to place these textbooks in K-12 schools ranging from Indiana to New York City.  To push against the declining civic literacy in America, Secretary Bennett wrote these books to “recapture the glory” and “the conviction about American greatness and purpose.”

Indiana Conference on Citizenship

Sagamore hosts an annual Indiana Conference on Citizenship to celebrate the American Idea, educate the next generation of citizens on their enduring role in preserving the Republic and to understand the pressing issues facing society today.  Speakers included the likes of US Rep. Lee Hamilton who formed a partnership with Sagamore and then-Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann to celebrate the state’s bicentennial by forming 50 big ideas to help give shape to its third century.

Global Civil Society

Sagamore senior fellow Don Eberly received a grant from the Bradley Foundation to translate his on-the-ground experience advacing civil society in Iraq and Afghanistan post 9/11 into a book. Eberly makes the case that civil society strategies comprise the enduring means to American security and international development success.

Dr. Amy Sherman

Faith is the #1 predictor of giving and serving in America according to Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam.  Sagamore senior fellow Amy Sherman is a scholar-practitioner who has produced evidence-based insight into the faith community’s vital contribution to civil society while simultaneously equipping the church to sustain and upgrade its commitment to fighting poverty and ensuring justice.

Dr. Lenore Ealy

Richard Cornuelle coined the term “independent sector” in his landmark 1965 book, Reclaiming the American Dream.  He reminded the nation that the rapid rise of the state post-World War II overshadowed the vast array of voluntary civic associations that serve as a “third force” between the individual and the state.  Sagamore senior fellow Lenore Ealy was a protégé of Mr. Cornuelle and she admirably carried on his work through her Conversations on Philanthropy book series.

Changing Culture through Stories

Sagamore senior fellow Jeff Sparks was involved in founding a writer’s colony called New Harmony and the Heartland Film Festival.  He captured the unifying theme of these two institutions—the power of storytelling to build better communities—in a book published by Sagamore Press.  Sparks also was instrumental in putting his ideas into action in Indianapolis’ effort to revitalize a southeast neighborhood.

Front Porch Citizenry

Sagamore formed a partnership with civil society scholar Alexandra (Lexi) Hudson and arts center director Joanna Taft to consider the power of front porch citizenship practice.  Lexi paired classic books from the Remnant Trust’s collection with original artwork commissioned by Taft’s Harrison Center for the Arts.

Dr. Les Lenkowsky

Dr. Les Lenkowsky is a founding member of Sagamore’s board and one of America’s leading philanthropy and civil society scholars.  After serving at the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Dr. Lenkowsky was a professor at Indiana University’s Paul H. O’Neill School of Public Policy and Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Celebrating American Ideas

The American Idea began with Thomas Jefferson’s words—“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” And its fulfillment rests with the ability of every American to experience all their potential in society. This “idea” needs to be both celebrated and renewed. It should be celebrated because of its unique place in world history. And yet it needs to be renewed because Americans need to remember the privilege and duty that comes with citizenship. To become a more perfect Union, we need to do our part and ensure that all our neighbors are equipped to do theirs.

The Quiet Revolution

In his book, The Quiet Revolution, Jay Hein chronicles how President George W. Bush implemented a “determined attack on need” by bolstering the capabilities of frontline faith-based and community nonprofits.  In many respects, the White House effort was an echo to Richard Cornuelle’s 1965 signal that we should consider the small, local and private voluntary efforts to build a better society.

Internship Program

Sagamore Institute offers a year-around internship experience for undergraduate and graduate school students.  While the program offers interns an insider’s view of think tank operations and a deep learning experience in the intern’s chosen issue interest, the overarching goal is to foster a civic spirit and cultivate better citizenship practices.  Sagamore hosted over 125 interns to date.