2017 Year in Review


"Things out there in America are a whole lot different from what you thought."

–Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy


AEI's Work Is More Critical Than Ever

America is facing serious economic, cultural, political, and foreign policy challenges:

  • Between 2000 and 2016, US per capita growth has averaged less than 1 percent a year.
  • Today one in six American men age 25–54 has no paying job of any kind.
  • Mortality rates for middle-age, white Americans are on the rise.
  • Public trust in crucial institutions, such as government and mass media, remains near historic lows.
  • A majority of Americans, according to a May 2017 Gallup poll, are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States, the country's position in the world, and our system of government and how well it works. 
  • According to a Spring 2016 Harvard University poll, 51 percent of millennials say they reject capitalism.

At a time of serious domestic and foreign policy challenges and deep ideological division, AEI's role is crucial in setting the standard for intelligent, civil, and nonpartisan analysis.

At this time of division, AEI can help unite the country through a movement to advance human dignity. At this time of partisan rancor and mistrust, AEI is promoting a healthy competition of ideas, based on data and evidence. And at this time of uncertainty, the independence of our work and the quality of our ideas are trusted by leaders in Washington and beyond.

We have spent the past year working to further this mission. We invite you to scroll down and learn more about how.


Advancing Human Dignity


"We believe that intellectual excellence in the pursuit of truth can improve our nation and world."

—Arthur C. Brooks, AEI president and
the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise


Bringing Dignity to the Forefront of Discourse

AEI scholars and staff work hard every day because we believe in the fundamental dignity of all people and believe that all people have potential.

AEI is laying the groundwork for welfare reform 2.0. 

Nicholas Eberstadt's "Our Miserable 21st Century" attracted record-breaking attention. 

Princeton economist Anne Case joined AEI scholars to reset the conversation on disability in America. 


Nine million people have tuned in to Arthur Brooks' Harvard University talk on entrepreneurship and helping those at the margins of society.  

Jason Delisle exposed the long and catastrophic history of the guaranteed student loan program.  

The US government turns to AEI to help target organized crime and trafficking. 

"While existing programs are making poverty less painful, most Americans want to see poor people move up the income ladder through full-time employment and stable families."

–Robert Doar, Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies

Cosponsors of the Promoting Affordable Childcare for Everyone Act (PACE Act) headlined an AEI event. 

Congressional leader headlined AEI event to address the need for bipartisan criminal justice reform. 

The most influential early childhood experts in the country gathered at AEI. 


A major event at AEI stressed the moral imperative of defending human rights in North Korea.

AEI is bringing creative disruptors into the Washington education policy debate.  

Policymakers at the forefront of addressing America's opioid crisis gathered at AEI. 


The Competition of Ideas


"AEI can help our nation foster cooperation and progress at a time of deep division in our country."

—Tully Friedman, co-chairman, AEI Board of Trustees
Chairman and co-CEO, FFL Partners LLC


Promoting and Winning the Competition of Ideas

AEI is playing a central role in promoting a true competition of ideas, providing innovative solutions and actionable policy recommendations on our nation's most critical issues in a way that embraces civil disagreement.

AEI is transforming the way economic policy analysis is conducted in America. 

AEI scholars' home loan model has been adopted by more than 25 community banks and credit unions across the country. 

AEI scholars briefed members of Congress on a coauthored, bipartisan report on how to bring out-of-work men into the labor force. 


Alan D. Viard's work was cited as "the most complete and authoritative references on the economics of border adjustments and trade."

Timely new volumes tackle the modern presidency and the partisanship and gridlock in Congress.  

The New York Times cited a joint AEI-Brookings report that highlights the crucial role of federal statistics.


AEI scholars gave nearly 50 television and radio interviews and penned nearly 20 op-eds in response to the US missile strike in Homs, Syria.

A diverse group of education leaders from across the ideological spectrum gathered at AEI to discuss new ventures, research, and opportunities.  

AEI scholars address the uphill battle in defending an open competition of ideas on America's college campuses.

2017 Outreach at a Glance


Broadcast Hits


Published Op-Eds

A Russian opposition politician and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) headlined an AEI event, and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) discussed how to thwart the Putin regime's assault on sovereignty. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appealed to Twitter to shut down an AEI scholar's Twitter feed. 

AEI scholar briefed the administration on a bipartisan report on the costs, advantages, and disadvantages of a paid family and medical leave program for the United States. 


US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley headlined an AEI event addressing the Iran deal.

New AEI publication provides the necessary framework for tackling Europe's major ailments.  

AEI scholars published prolifically on the North Korean nuclear threat and produced a record-setting YouTube video on the issue.


Leading Leaders


"I credit the free enterprise system for my personal success, and I am proud that AEI is making the intellectual, moral, and practical case for free enterprise."

—Daniel A. D'Aniello, co-chairman, AEI Board of Trustees
Cofounder and chairman, The Carlyle Group


Leading Leaders in Washington and Beyond

In the marketplace of ideas, we seek to reaffirm in the hearts and minds of freedom-loving people
the benefits of the system that has raised billions out of abject poverty and has been an enabling force for human flourishment.

New AEI series offered immediately actionable policy solutions for the new administration.  

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) recognized Andy Smarick's fortuitous work on the failure of the School Improvement Grant program. 

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health headlined an AEI event that trended on Twitter.  

AEI Outreach to Policymakers

Members of Congress, their staff, and administration officials continue to rely on AEI scholars
for their analysis and recommendations on today's most critical policy issues.

• The federal student loan program (Jason D. Delisle)
• Reshaping the US military (Thomas Donnelly)
• The individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (Thomas P. Miller)
• Thwarting Iran's expanding influence across the Middle East (Kenneth Pollack)
• US-Asia economic relations (Derek Scissors)
• Early childhood education and human capital development (Katharine B. Stevens)
• The CHOICE Act (Peter J. Wallison)
• US energy policy (Benjamin Zycher)

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., was confirmed by the US Senate in May as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Kevin A. Hassett, formerly AEI's director of research for domestic policy, was confirmed in September by President Trump as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Adam Lerrick was nominated by President Trump in March for assistant secretary of the Treasury for international finance.

Additionally, former AEI Trustee Elisabeth (Betsy) DeVos was confirmed in February by the US Senate as our nation's 11th secretary of education. She served on AEI's Board of Trustees from June 2015 to November 2016.

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The Senate Armed Services Committee adopted the core recommendation of AEI's report To Rebuild America's Military in its annual policy bill. 

AEI scholars headlined sessions at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). 

AEI's Critical Threats Project developed a coherent strategy to end the civil war in Syria.  


AEI monograph declared mandatory reading by Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Trask for all military planners at the Special Operations Command.

Two higher education bills in the House and Senate, respectively, were informed by AEI's work on private student loans and income share agreements.  

AEI fellow briefed policymakers and military leaders on a new approach to fighting al Qaeda, ISIS, and their offshoots.

Promoting Civil Debate on College Campuses

AEI scholars promote the competition of ideas on campuses that are increasingly closed off from civil debate and new ideas. Charles Murray's experience at Middlebury College, during which he was physically intimidated and prevented by protestors from delivering a lecture on his 2012 New York Times bestselling book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010, was perhaps the height of intolerance toward the free exchange of ideas on college campuses and was widely condemned in the nation's most popular media outlets.

Middlebury students had no chance to challenge [Charles Murray] on any of his views. Thoughts and persuasion, questions and answers, were eclipsed by intimidation.

—The New York Times editorial board
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AEI scholars reach leaders across the country with their scholarship.  

AEI's Academic Programs creates a competition of ideas on America's college campuses. 

AEI's Leadership Network has grown to more than 400 members, who have received communication, policy, and leadership training from AEI.  



Resources That Support AEI's Work

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AEI's unaudited financial performance for the 2017 fiscal year ended June 30 is provided in accordance with GAAP accounting conventions.

AEI is entirely privately funded. It accepts no funds from any US or foreign government and does not engage in contract research.

The Institute raised $24.2 million in contributions from individuals, $12.7 million from foundations, and $6.7 million from corporations. The sum of these fundraising activities, along with conference and miscellaneous revenue of $3 million, brought the Institute's annual operating revenues to $46.6 million.

The past fiscal year brought the completed renovation of AEI's new headquarters building. The addition of $16.6 million contributed to finish the building brought total revenues to $63.2 million, as depicted in the revenue table.

Consistent with previous AEI annual reports, investment activity, a gain of $21.5 million in fiscal year 2017, is excluded from the revenue shown.

Expenses for the year totaled $57.8 million, with 70 percent of that spending for programs, 17 percent related to the completion of building construction, 7 percent for management and administration, and 6 percent for fundraising. AEI allocates a portion of communication expenses to programs, but all communication expenses are shown in the table prior to that allocation.

Thank you for your support

Thank you to our community of generous investors whose support enables us to fight every day for polices that defend human dignity, expand human potential, and build a freer and safer world. AEI is deeply grateful for your investment in our mission and for the trust you have placed in AEI scholars and staff to pursue our shared principles and goals.



Defending Freedom, Opportunity, and Enterprise

The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. The work of our scholars and staff advances ideas rooted in our belief in representative democracy, free enterprise, American strength and global leadership, solidarity with those at the periphery of our society, and a pluralistic, entrepreneurial culture.

Located in Washington, DC, AEI is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational organization. The Institute does not take institutional positions on any issues. We are supported by private donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations. AEI does not accept government funding and does not perform contract research.
AEI has a record of impact since our founding nearly 80 years ago. Since 1938, AEI scholars have specialized in finding the truth that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Our scholars have helped change this country for the better with their scholarship and insights, including airline deregulation in the 1970s, welfare reform in the 1980s, and warning about the volatility of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the 1990s. Read more about AEI's role in our nation's policy debates in "From the Archives."
The American Enterprise Institute's governance is overseen by our Board of Trustees, composed of leading business and financial executives. The Institute's external development and outreach activities are bolstered by entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the country who serve on our National Council. And AEI's research on domestic policy, economic issues, and foreign and defense matters is undertaken by our team of scholars and fellows.
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