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Political Science / Public Policy Resources: Michigan Think Tanks

What is a Think Tank?

What is a think tank? According to the Lehman Social Sciences Library at Columbia University: The term 'think tanks' is an imprecise phrase used to describe a wide range of non-profit research organizations which engage in public policy analysis and research, and often advocate solutions. Some are strictly nonpartisan, researching policy issues without regard to political outcomes, while others see one of their main functions as that of providing intellectual support to politicians or parties. They are as ubiquitous in the American political scene as interest groups, media consultants, 'spin doctors,' and the political parties themselves. You'll find a related bibliography and a selected list of think tanks and policy centers at the link above.

The listings here highlight those think tanks that provide inofrmation through their web site that might be useful to citizens or scholars. Descriptions are mostly taken from information provided on their web sites.

Michigan Think Tanks, Policy Institutes, And Advocacy Groups, A-L

American Civil Liberties Union of MichiganThe mission of the ACLU of Michigan is to enforce the Bill of Rights and advance its principles. Through a variety of public education programs, our legislative program, based in Lansing, and our litigation program, supported almost entirely by volunteer attorneys, the ACLU is the premier civil rights organization in the country. The ACLU has earned widespread respect and love for its consistent defense of constitutionally based principles.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) MichiganPublishes a Capital Report.

Anderson Economic GroupThis Lansing based firm offers consulting and research services to the public and private sectors. Be sure to check out the online publication section.

Association of Businesses Advocating Tariff Equity (ABATE). ABATE is a trade association for large industrial customers that have high energy costs. ABATE was formed more than 20 years ago to represent the industrial viewpoint before Michigan and federal regulators and to lobby the Michigan legislature and Congress on energy related matters. ABATE’s goals are to have regulated rates for energy commodities equal to the providing utility’s cost of service, and to promote competitive markets for energy where no single seller or group of sellers can control market prices.

Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) : Sponsors research and public information to promote evidence based care delivery, improve population health, and expand access to care. Housed at the University of Michigan, CHRT is a non-profit partnership between U-M and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to test the best ideas for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care system.

The Center for Michigan.   A "think-and-do tank" founded by Phil Power in early 2006. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, The Center's objective is to assist our state through its current period of wrenching economic trouble and to lay the foundation of informed hope for a better future Michigan. It will help develop and execute comprehensive, long-range and, in some cases, radical policy solutions to transform Michigan's business, economic, political and cultural climate. In so doing, it will work to help reform the structure and workings of Michigan's political system.

Citizen's Research Council of MichiganThe Citizens Research Council of Michigan is a privately funded, not-for-profit public affairs research organization, founded in 1916. For over 80 years, the objective of CRC has been to provide factual, unbiased, independent information on significant issues concerning state and local government organization and finance. Be sure to check out the CRC Online Almanac with data about Michigan as well as to a variety of online reports about Michigan public policy issues. The CRC also compiles its own list of Michigan Think Tanks.

Clean Water Action Michigan. Clean Water Action is an organization of 1.2 million members working to empower people to take action to protect America's waters, build healthy communities and to make democracy work for all of us. For 36 years Clean Water Action has succeeded in winning some of the nation's most important environmental protections through grassroots organizing, expert policy research and political advocacy focused on holding elected officials accountable to the public. This web site pulls together information about Michigan activities and crusades.

County Road Association of Michigan (CRAM). Represents the interests and concerns of Michigan's 83 county road agencies. Along with each county road agency, CRAM is working to ensure safe and efficient roads for all who travel in Michigan.

Detroit Regional ChamberAlthough the Chamber stays heavily involved in public policy while keeps strong ties to local, state and federal government, it is not a part of any one municipality. Instead, through its offices in Detroit, Lansing and Washington, D.C., the Chamber lobbies on behalf of businesses throughout the 10-county region of Southeast Michigan when pending legislation may have an impact.

Education Policy Center at Michigan State UniversityEngages in outreach activities aimed at improving the quality of education for students at all levels of Michigan's education system, from early childhood through post-secondary education.

Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center. In 2006, Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center became the new home of Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) Education Fund's environmental work, focusing exclusively on protecting Michigan's air, water and open spaces.

Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan. In the last few years, 12 livestock factories, most of them dairies, have been built near the town of Hudson, Michigan. Large livestock operations that confine animals year-round are called Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) developed this website to provide information on the pollution and the damage CAFOs have caused in our community and its watersheds, and to promote Sustainable Alternatives (buy local food & pasture-based meat--see sources). As family farmers and neighbors, we believe agriculture must take responsibility for its actions in rural communities. CAFOs have failed us. They have damaged our farming communities, degraded our natural resources, and polluted our watersheds.

Equality Michigan.  We work to achieve full equality and respect for all people in the state of Michigan regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

  • Equality Michigan works with state government to advocate for the passage of pro-equality legislation and to counter anti-equality legislation.
  • We educate the broader public about the effects of anti-LGBT discrimination on victims and the state as a whole.
  • When LGBT individuals are the targets of hate crimes or discrimination, our Department of Victim Services works with them to achieve justice.

In addition to fighting for the rights of LGBT families and individuals, Equality Michigan is a dedicated resource for all LGBT and allied community members in our state.

Insurance Institute of MichiganThe Insurance Institute of Michigan (IIM) is a government affairs and public information association proud to represent more than 90 property/casualty insurance companies and related organizations operating in Michigan. IIM's purpose is to serve the Michigan insurance industry and the insurance consumer as a central focal point for educational, media, legislative and public information on insurance issues.

Lone Tree Council. Saginaw-based environmental action group, has been fighting to celan up dioxin in Saginaw Bay and Tittibiwassee River basin.

Michigan Think Tanks, Policy Institutes, And Advocacy Groups, M

Mackinac Center for Public Policy  Active conservative public policy advocacy group focusing on Michigan and the Great Lakes region. 

Michigan Association of Counties. No other unit of Michigan government impacts residents' lives more directly than county government. From the roads that carry commuters to work and children to school, to the parks and recreation areas that make the Great Lakes State special, county governments make our state work....The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) was formed in 1898 to advocate for the interests of Michigan's county governments. Over the past 100 years, MAC has evolved into a highly respected organization that offers the full spectrum of association services that distribute important public information to its members. MAC offers members educational programs, legislative representation, local workshops, a legislative and summer conference, and produces a MAC newspaper, commissioner directory, and legislative communications to keep members up to date on the latest events that affect county governments.  Many sections of the web site are restricted to members.

Michigan Association of Public School Academies.   The lobbying arm of the charter schools. Their mission is "to provide leadership to advance quality and promote choice in education through a strong community of chartered public schools and their supporters, offering every Michigan child an opportunity to learn. "

Michigan Association of School Boards  Represents school board members from the many districts around the state.

Michigan Association of School Business Officials

Michigan Campaign Finance Network.  A nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition of organizations and individuals concerned about the influence of money in politics and the need for campaign finance reform in Michigan. MCFN conducts research on campaign contributions and their relationship to election outcomes and issues of public policy, supports access to campaign finance information and develops educational initiatives for the public on the subject of campaign finance reform.

Michigan Catholic Conference. The official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

Michigan Chamber of CommerceThe Michigan Chamber of Commerce applies the resources of the state’s job providers to lower taxes, reduce business costs, fight unnecessary government regulations and interference, improve the economy and create jobs for Michigan citizens.

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.  Dedicated to helping Michigan's citizens protect one of our most valuable natural resources: our communities' water supplies.

Michigan Credit Union LeagueOrganized in 1934, the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) has a proud tradition of innovation and leadership among the nation’s credit union trade associations. Thanks in no small part to the efforts of the MCUL, the history of the Michigan credit union movement is one of growth, success and progress. Through membership in the MCUL, Michigan credit unions receive important services such as legislative, regulatory and media advocacy; a stream of timely and vital news and information; access to key education and training programs; direct assistance with critical operational and planning issues; and a host of other products, services and programs designed exclusively to meet the unique individual and collective needs of credit unions.

Michigan Education Association.  MEA is an organization dedicated to the principles of public education, advancement of quality education, and security of the rights of education employees. There are approximately 148,000 members of MEA, who are public K-12 teachers and Educational Support Professional; higher education faculty and educational support personnel; employees of intermediate school districts; and retired school employees.

Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association

Michigan Environmental Council (MEC). Provides a collective voice for the environment at the local, state and federal levels. Working with our 75 member groups and their collective membership of nearly 200,000 residents, MEC is addressing the primary assaults on Michigan’s environment; promoting alternatives to urban blight and suburban sprawl; advocating for a sustainable environment and economy; protecting Michigan’s water legacy; promoting cleaner energy; and working to diminish environmental impacts on children’s health.

Michigan Forest Products Council. Represents businesses that make products from forests.

Michigan Future Inc.  A non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future's mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan's people, enterprises and communities can succeed in the Information Age. Its work is funded primarily by Michigan foundations. Its current work is focused on:
(1)launching a high school designed to connect students to good-paying careers in the automotive industry
(2)launching an employer-centered system for reducing chronic unemployment in Detroit
(3)developing an action plan for revitalizing Michigan's central cities
(4)developing a New Agenda for a New Michigan

Michigan Grocers Association  (MGA).  A voluntary, statewide non-profit organization representing food retailers and the companies that serve and supply them. Founded in 1898, MGA is Michigan's most respected and best connected food industry association. MGA is the leading advocate for the state's food industry, representing the business interests of retailers and their suppliers in daily communication with Legislators, regulatory agencies and the public.

Michigan Infrastructure and Transporation Association (MITA).  A statewide construction trade association formed in 2005 through the merger of Associated Underground Contractors and the Michigan Road Builders Association. The membership consists of nearly 800 Michigan companies representing construction disciplines such as road and bridge, sewer and water, utility, railroad, excavation and specialty construction. The organization consists of 14 employees as well as a number of professional consultants, including Public Affairs Associates of Lansing.

Michigan Invasive Plants Council. The Michigan Invasive Plant Council got underway as a direct result of the Federal Executive Order on Invasive Plants, signed by President Clinton on February 3, 1999. The group met to formally address mutual concerns about the effects of invasive plants in Michigan. MIPC adopted by-laws in January 2002 and its first Board of Directors was elected under those by-laws at the Council's first annual meeting held March 2002.

Michigan Land Use Institute.  Founded in 1995 to establish an approach to economic development that strengthens communities, enhances opportunity, and protects the state's unmatched natural resources. Our mission from the beginning has been to help Michigan avoid the patterns of suburban sprawl and over-development that cause traffic congestion, pollution, loss of community, rising costs to individuals and governments, and a deteriorating quality of life.

Michigan League for Public Policy (MLHS).  A statewide citizens non-profit organization dedicated to education, research and advocacy for the benefit of low income and other vulnerable citizens in the state of Michigan. MLHS is comprised of over 1,900 organizational and individual members and has served the human services community in Michigan since 1912.

Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA).  Serving manufacturers for more than 100 years, providing effective representation at Michigan’s Capitol; timely educational seminars; quality, competitive-rate insurance programs; and many more services. Explore our site and learn more about MMA and Michigan manufacturing — the foundation of our state’s economy.

Michigan Municipal LeagueThe mission of the League is to advocate on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington DC and the courts; provide educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and to assist municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.

Michigan Nonprofit Association. Represents a diverse membership of local and statewide nonprofit associations.

Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores 

Michigan Policy Network : A student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College.  Does not require subscription.

Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC). A non-profit environmental organization whose mission is: To foster effective resource use in Michigan by developing, supporting and educating a coalition of business, government, non-profit and individual members working toward the common goals of waste reduction, recycling, reuse, composting and recycled-content purchasing.

Michigan Restaurant Association.  Represents more than 4,500 Michigan foodservice establishments. The foodservice industry plays an integral role in Michigan's economy, employing more than 421,000 people and creating more than $12.3 billion in total annual sales.

Michigan Retailers Association.  The unified voice of Michigan’s retail industry. Retailers provide more than $128 billion worth of goods and services annually to consumers in Michigan and employ 855,000 Michiganians -- almost one in five jobs in Michigan’s economy....Headquartered in Lansing, MRA provides aggressive legislative representation and a wide range of profit-boosting services to more than 5,500 member retail businesses, which own and operate more than 12,000 stores across the state. Members range in size from the smallest single-store operations to the largest national and international chains. 

Michigan Society of Association Executives. A not-for-profit membership organization that serves similar organizations in a variety of managerial and staff specialist roles. In short, we are the association for associations in Michigan! Our mission is to ensure a knowledgeable, professional, and successful association community.

Michigan State Medical Society 

Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.  The nonpartisan public policy network at Michigan State University. Our staff is dedicated to connecting legislators, scholars, and practitioners through applied research, lively policy forums, and political leadership instruction.

Michigan Taxpayers AllianceAnti-tax group that monitors tax proposals at the state level.

Michigan Townships AssociationPromotes the interests of 1,242 townships by fostering strong, vibrant communities; advocating legislation to meet 21st century challenges; developing knowledgeable, township officials and enthusiastic supporters of township government; and encouraging ethical practices of elected officials who uphold the traditions and unique characteristics of township government and the values of the people of Michigan.

Michigan's Children.  A statewide, independent voice for children and their families. We work with lawmakers, business leaders, and communities to make Michigan a place where all children have the opportunity to thrive.

Michigan Think Tanks, Policy Institutes, And Advocacy Groups, N-Z

Presidents Council : State Universities of Michigan Focus on higher education policies, funding, and role in economic development.

Progress Michigan.  Facebook Page.  Our mission is to provide a strong credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable, assists in the promotion of progressive ideas and uses state-of-the-art web based new media to creatively build grassroots support for progressive ideas.

Public Interest Group in Michigan (PIRGIM).  When consumers are cheated or the voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out by special interest lobbyists, PIRGIM speaks up and takes action. We uncover threats to public health and well-being and fight to end them, using the time-tested tools of investigative research, media exposés, grassroots organizing, advocacy and litigation. PIRGIM’s mission is to deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism that protects consumers, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters responsive, democratic government.

Public Policy Associates. Serving clients throughout the United States, Public Policy Associates provides high-caliber, thoughtful policy research that results in strategies of value in the real world. Many reports focus on Michigan.

Public Sector Consultants. A private Michigan corporation providing policy research in the areas of health, education, economics, the environment, and technology; survey research; program evaluation; and strategic planning. The web page provides access to many public policy reports. Also produce Michigan in Brief.

Safe & Just Michigan: Safe & Just Michigan works to reduce the harm caused by both crime and unnecessary incarceration. They advance evidence-based reforms that can improve public safety and eliminate unnecessary and wasteful corrections spending.  They conduct research, educate, advocate and mobilize support for smart investments in services and programs proven to reduce crime and promote healthy, thriving communities.  Safe & Just Michigan partners with Michigan organizations and leaders from across the political spectrum, including business and community leaders, faith communities, crime survivor organizations, formerly incarcerated individuals, prisoners and their families, as well as Michigan taxpayers statewide. 

Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM).  The only statewide and state-based association that focuses solely on serving the needs of Michigan’s small business community. Our mission is to help Michigan small businesses succeed by promoting entrepreneurship, leveraging buying power and engaging in political advocacy. We have been successfully serving small businesses like yours in all 83 counties of Michigan since 1967.

University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). The University of Michigan provides this web page as an entry point for anyone interested in tapping its collective public policy resources.

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