Mission: Founded in 1975, the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is the nation's leading nonpartisan progressive public policy and leadership development center serving state legislators, state policy organizations, and state grassroots leaders. CPA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation with a staff of 12 and an annual budget of $2 million, supported by foundations, unions, corporations and individuals.
Programs: CPA empowers state legislators by simultaneously working at three levels: building a strong, coordinated network of legislators across the states; providing values-based leadership development programs; and by developing user-friendly policy tools on a wide variety of issues. Each of these elements is crafted to reach an audience with broad issue interests. Network Building CPA's State Action Network is the largest national network of progressive state legislators, linking nearly 1400 leaders from all 50 states. Using meetings, conference calls, email and other means, CPA provides ways for these legislators to find each other, share support and knowledge, connect with advocates, organizers and experts, direct policy research and development, build support, develop messages and strategies, and continue to strengthen their leadership skills. Leadership Development The Center for Policy Alternatives' Flemming Leadership Institute provides the only values-based leadership training for state legislators. Since the inception of the Flemming Institute in 1994, more than 340 state legislators from 50 states have graduated from CPA?s training programs. The Flemming Leadership Institute helps state legislators sharpen their understanding of their personal and community values and how those values drive their decisions as elected leaders. Fellows engage in exercises to define the role of government, examine policies and budgets as value statements and identify the core values that they share with others and can use as the basis for solving problems. Policy Tools CPA provides user-friendly talking points, policy summaries, model bills and resource lists designed specifically for state legislators. The Progressive Agenda, CPA's annual compilation of policy toolkits, is distributed to more than 6,000 legislators and leaders. Written in collaboration with national and state partner organizations, the Progressive Agenda covers 50 social and economic state issues and includes examples of model legislation. The Progressive Agenda includes toolkits on a variety of subjects such as education, health care, the environment and criminal justice reform.