The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is launching a new premier event to elevate emerging and diverse voices in national security. Selected applicants will make their pitch for innovative policy ideas to renew American competitiveness in front of a distinguished panel of judges and live studio audience on April 7, 2020. Competitors will also have their ideas featured in official CNAS products and social media. The Pitch’s winners will be invited to present their talks at the CNAS National Security Conference in Washington, D.C. in June 2020.

Applicants should make their pitch for one of the following prompts:

To be eligible, applicants must:

Complete applications include:

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM EST on March 2, 2020. Decisions will be conveyed to all applicants in mid-March.

If a prospective applicant is unable to submit the required video due to disability, please contact at CNAS to obtain a reasonable accommodation.

The Pitch is a premier component of the CNAS America Competes 2020 initiative.

Apply here.

Frequently Asked Questions


Who can submit a pitch?

If you’re between the ages of 25 and 35 on April 7, 2020 and able to be in Washington, D.C. on that date, then we want to hear your innovative idea on how to renew American competitiveness.

Can I submit a pitch as a team?

No, you may not submit as a team. Pitches will only be accepted from individuals this year.

I’m not local to Washington, D.C. Can I still apply?

Yes, however, selected participants must present their pitches in person at the event on April 7, 2020. Please note that if you live outside of the Washington, D.C. area, CNAS will not cover your travel costs.

I’m not available on June 24, 2020—the date of CNAS’ annual conference. Can I still apply?

Yes. In addition to having the opportunity to present their pitches at the CNAS annual conference in June, the winners and their pitches will also be featured on the CNAS website and promoted on CNAS social media.

Am I required to be available for the entire event in order to participate?



What kind of ideas are you looking for?

We’re looking for new, innovative ideas—big or small—that answer one of the four questions below. While successful ideas are likely to be creative and original, the judges will also have to be persuaded that your idea could be implemented and would achieve its intended objective.

Alliances and multilateralism: What new approach could the United States pursue to strengthen and better leverage its alliances or international institutions to advance vital U.S. interests and renew American competitiveness?

Economics and technology: What new idea in U.S. technology or economic policy would bolster American competitiveness in the world and enhance the prosperity of the American people?

Military and defense: What critical policy change – especially in the areas of strategy, force development, posture and presence, concepts of operation, recruitment and retention, the industrial base, or technology adoption – would have a significant effect in helping maintain America's strategic military advantage over China and Russia?

National security institutions: What is a key reform to U.S. national security institutions (including structures, processes, and human capital) that would help the United States adapt to evolving challenges in strategic competition?

What if my idea does not fit into one of the four categories?

Please only submit ideas that answer one of the four questions posed.

What if my idea fits into more than one of the four categories?

Please choose the category where you believe your idea best answers the question. CNAS reserves the right to re-assign your idea to a different category than the one selected by the applicant.

I’m having trouble uploading my application. Can I email it to you?

If you are having technical difficulties with your application, please let us know at Email submissions will only be accepted if we are unable to troubleshoot the issue. That said—to avoid technical problems, don’t leave applying until the last minute!

Does my resume need to be in a specific style?

No, your resume does not need to follow a specific style. We only ask that it be clear and concise and that you upload it in a PDF file format.

How do I record and upload a video for the application?

Your video can easily be recorded on your camera phone, selfie style. Just open the camera app on your phone (or your friend’s phone) and start recording! Then you can email the video file to yourself and upload it directly to the application portal. No video editing required.

Video submissions will not be judged on their production quality as long as we can hear you clearly. Video submissions must be no more than 30 seconds in length. If you submit a longer video, your application will be disqualified.

How do I submit my video if I applied through Indeed?

Please submit your video at Please include your last name in the video file name and use the subject "The Pitch Video: [your first and last name]." When the Indeed portal asks for your video file, please put a placeholder PDF file detailing that you submitted your video via email.


How will the competition participants be selected?

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of CNAS staff. Applicants will only be evaluated based on the contents of their 280-character pitch summary, 30-second video submission, and resume.

Can I apply with more than one idea?

No. We want your best idea. Please submit that one!

When will I be notified if I am selected?

Selected participants will be notified via email by March 23, 2020.

The Event

What is the event?

The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas is CNAS’ new premier event to elevate emerging and diverse voices in national security. Selected applicants will make their pitch for innovative policy ideas to renew American competitiveness in front of a distinguished panel of judges and live studio audience. The Pitch’s winners will be invited to present their talk at the CNAS National Security Conference in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2020.

How will the competition be judged?

Participants will be evaluated based on their organization and clarity; creativity and originality; persuasiveness; and style and technique.

Who are the judges?

The panel of judges will feature distinguished, bipartisan national security experts. CNAS CEO Richard Fontaine and former CNAS CEO Michele Flournoy will both serve as judges. CNAS will announce the remaining panel of judges ahead of the conference.

If selected, how long will I have to prepare my final presentation?

Participants will have a minimum of two weeks to prepare their final pitches for the event.

Will our final presentations have to follow a certain format?

Participants will be given further details to aid in the development of their final presentations once selected.


If you have any further questions or concerns, please email us at