Press Release

Press Release: DFI Awarded Prestigious Heritage Foundation Innovation Prize for Work on Combating Communist China’s Influence in American Education

WASHINGTON—The Defense of Freedom Institute announced today it has been awarded The Heritage Foundation’s Innovation Prize for its important work to counter the threat of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence in American education.  The Heritage Foundation awards the prize to organizations providing “innovative solutions to the most pressing issues facing America.”

“The People’s Republic of China—in reality, the Chinese Communist Party—seeks to displace the United States as the world’s most powerful nation and is working to influence America’s educational institutions in aid of that strategic goal,” said DFI President and Co-founder Bob Eitel. “Yet, in the face of this bid to eclipse American power, the Biden administration has inexplicably closed the federal investigations meant to expose the CCP’s influence and keep it in check. Since launching in 2021, DFI has worked to expose the Biden administration’s weakened oversight of efforts by the CCP and its proxies to use generous gifts and contracts to unduly influence our universities, colleges, and schools. We are honored to receive The Heritage Foundation’s Innovation Prize, which will ensure that our critical work in this area continues.”

In February, DFI launched two investigations into the Biden Administration’s decisions to weaken oversight into CCP influence at American colleges and universities, including its decision to end the “China Initiative” at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and weaken oversight of foreign money pouring into U.S. universities.  DFI noted at the time that the changes in enforcement came on the heels of a dramatic increase in foreign gifts to the University of Pennsylvania after that institution announced the establishment of the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in 2017.  

“There is no greater foreign threat to our values, our institutions, and our American way of life than the Chinese Communist Party,” said Heritage President Kevin Roberts. “That threat is made all the more deadly by bureaucrats and academic elites who have politicized our national security for the sake of research dollars. It is absolutely critical that we expose who is working with the Biden administration to weaken our policy towards the CCP, and hold those people accountable, whether they’re in government, academia, or the private sector. Heritage’s own Oversight Project will no doubt help support this work, as well. But someone must lead the way, and I know the experts at Defense of Freedom Institute are the patriots we need in this moment. I wish them all the best in this vital endeavor.”

To learn more about the Defense of Freedom Institute’s work to expose the CCP influence in American education and to hold the Biden Administration accountable, click here.

Additional Background on Heritage Innovation Prize

The Heritage Innovation Prize recognizes and provides financial awards up to $1 million annually to results-oriented nonprofits for projects involving research, litigation, education, outreach, or communications, particularly those focused on empowering parents in education, holding Big Tech accountable, countering the threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), securing America’s borders and reducing crime, ensuring free and fair elections, reducing the growth of spending and inflation, and promoting life and family formation. Its purpose is to financially support innovative projects, bold strategies, and highly creative policy solutions that help build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.