The Sycamore Institute

 An Independent, Nonpartisan Public Policy Research Center for Tennessee

The Sycamore Institute exists to help policymakers, the media, and the public understand complex issues that affect and connect Tennesseans’ health and prosperity. We are:


INDEPENDENT  •  Sycamore takes a neutral and objective approach to analyze and explain public policy issues. We are not beholden to any political, government, academic, or other organization.


NONPARTISAN  •  Our leadership and staff come from across the political spectrum, but we all believe that data and evidence create the best foundation for effective public policy.


RESEARCHERS  •  Sycamore provides information, analysis, and opportunities for learning and discussion. We are not lobbyists or advocates for particular legislative proposals, political perspectives, or party agendas.

Our Mission

To provide accessible, reliable data and research in pursuit of sound, sustainable policies that improve the lives of all Tennesseans.

Our Vision

A thriving Tennessee whose top priority is the health and well-being of each citizen.

Our Origin

The Sycamore Institute grew out of the bold vision of a diverse group of community leaders from across Tennessee who saw the need for an independent, nonpartisan public policy research center focused on our state.

With the leadership and support of The Healing Trust, approximately 80 of these leaders representing a broad range of professions, political views, and personal experiences engaged in a 3-day collaborative design process. Their goal: design an organization to inform and support the creation of sound, sustainable public policy for Tennessee through reliable, accessible, and data-driven research and analysis.

The name they chose reflects the strengths of Tennessee’s native sycamore: a unique, long-lived tree with strong roots that stands tall and spreads seed far and wide.

The Sycamore Institute launched in 2015 and quickly built a reputation as a reliable source of unbiased information about issues that affect and connect Tennesseans’ health, prosperity, and public policy.

Why Our Work Matters

A healthier Tennessee is a more prosperous Tennessee, and prosperity creates opportunity. Families, businesses, and our economy all thrive when people enjoy good health, social and financial well-being, and the chance to make meaningful contributions to society.

What Is Public Policy?

The phrase “public policy” is shorthand for the system of laws, regulations, actions (or inactions), and funding priorities of our governing institutions. Public policy affects almost every aspect of our lives — where we live, where we learn, where we work, and where we wander.

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Aspen Ideas Panel on Medical Debt
Sycamore Institute Just the Facts

How We Engage

Crafting public policy is a continuous, iterative process that calls for stakeholders with diverse viewpoints to work together.

The connections between health, prosperity, and public policy are complicated, nuanced, and wide-ranging. Moving the needle toward a healthier and more prosperous Tennessee requires thoughtful analysis and taking the long view.

By providing reliable information and engaging with everyone, Sycamore helps Tennesseans of all political stripes uncover the facts to solve problems.

We welcome your participation and input in our process. To learn more and get involved, you can subscribe to our emails, send us a message, suggest a research topic, request technical assistance, follow us on social media, attend our events, and donate to keep us around.

Our Funding and Integrity

Funding for the Sycamore Institute comes from a combination of foundations and individual donors. Our Code of Ethics reflects our commitment to maintaining integrity as a reliable source of information and independence from outside interests.

Organizations that have provided significant financial support include the Healing Trust, the Frist Foundation, the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Memorial Foundation, the Urban Child Institute, the Joe C. Davis Foundation, and the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness.