The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas

What is The Pitch?

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) began its annual premier event in 2020 to elevate emerging and diverse voices in national security. Students and early career professionals from across a variety of sectors submit innovative policy ideas to meet new challenges in U.S. national security policy. Selected applicants pitch their ideas in front of a distinguished panel of judges and live virtual audience at a session of the CNAS National Security Conference. Judges and the audience select heat winners, the audience choice winner, and best in show. Competitors will also have their ideas featured in official CNAS products and social media.

2024 Competition Information

Like last year, the Pitch will be split into two rounds. The first round will take place virtually on Wednesday, April 24, with winners from each category and a People’s Choice winner advancing to the grand finale. The winners of the first round will present their pitches in person at the grand finale during the CNAS 2024 National Security Conference, which will take place Thursday, June 6. The exact time of the finale is to be determined.

During the first round of competition, heat winners and the People’s Choice winner will each receive a $250 honorarium. Additionally, first-round winners residing in the continental United States will be provided with airfare and lodging to travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in The Pitch finale during the annual conference and attend VIP conference sessions. The Best in Show winner, selected during the grand finale, will receive a $1,000 honorarium, as well as attendance at a CNAS Next Generation Program dinner of their choice.

In addition, the three heat winners and the People’s Choice winner will have the opportunity to contribute a written version (500–1000 words) of their pitch to a special CNAS commentary collection.

Applications for The Pitch 2024 are now CLOSED.

Applicants must make their pitch for a new U.S. national security or foreign policy idea responding to one of the following prompts:

To be eligible, applicants must:

Complete applications include:

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM ET on Monday, March 25, 2024. Decisions will be conveyed via email to all applicants in late March/early April.

If you have any questions about The Pitch, please see the FAQs or email

Watch Past Competitions:


2023 Winning Commentary:

A Sci-Fi Concept That Should Become Reality: Asteroid Mining Is Essential for the Future of U.S. National Security

For many Americans, it seems difficult to imagine a world in which the United States sources its lithium and cobalt from an asteroid thousands of miles from Earth rather than ...

Power of the People: Harnessing the Nation’s Human Capital through Remote Work

People power is the core of U.S. national security. From the National Cybersecurity Strategy and the President’s Management Agenda to the CHIPS and Science Act, the federal go...

Strengthening the DoD’s Innovation Ecosystem through Structured Collaboration across Service Branches

Because emerging defense technology is being applied in critical ways across the globe, the United States needs to consistently invest in and scale the capabilities that would...


2022 Winning Commentary:

Institutionalizing Climate Diplomacy in the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service

This commentary piece is part of CNAS' The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas. The author, Jacqueline White Menchaca, won the People’s Choice Award at the 2022 competition. The...

Intelligence Agencies as Truth-Telling Internet Informers?

This commentary piece is part of CNAS' The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas. The author, William Coffin, won the Safeguarding Against Threats to Democracy heat at the 2022 co...


2021 Winning Commentary:

The New Race for Energy Resources

Natural resources are critical for national security. Land, water, and energy capacity all directly affect a nation’s social and economic stability—dubbed “natural security.” ...

Addressing Future Pandemics through Public Health Diplomacy

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for public health diplomacy, even as public health remains an underrated focus of U.S. foreign policy. A lack of dedicated perso...

Keep the Spark from the Tinderbox

In the fall of 2016, a remote corner of northwest Syria became a tinderbox. Turkish ground forces rolled in from the north, while Syrian, Russian, and Iranian forces advanced ...

A Climate Change–Ready Force

Building a climate change–ready force will require integrating and adopting innovative climate technologies across the entire DoD....


2020 Winning Commentary:

Indo-Pacific Security

South Korea Is an Island, Entire of Itself: The Missing Island in Allied First Island Chain Strategies

South Korea is one of the United States’ closest allies and a sovereign democratic nation with high-end warfighting capabilities that functions as a de facto island....

Technology & National Security

A National Cloud for All

A national cloud would allow Americans to access this virtual computer, as long as they have internet and a device....


Ditch Use-or-Lose Budgets in the Department of Defense

The “use-it-or-lose-it” budget phenomenon remains problematic for the department....

Learn More

The Pitch 2023: A Competition of New Ideas

Compete in the Center's second annual premier event to elevate emerging and diverse voices in national security....

Make Room

Make Room is an inclusive professional development network where early professionals are equipped to pursue their career goals and develop their leadership skills. Founded in ...

The Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Leaders Fellowship

The Next Generation National Security Leaders Program is a central part of the Center for a New American Security’s mission to prepare and foster the next generation of nation...