2024 CNAS The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas

Washington, District of Columbia, United States | Partially remote


The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is hosting The Pitch: A Competition of New Ideas, its annual premier event to elevate emerging and diverse voices in national security. Selected applicants will make their pitch for innovative policy ideas to meet new challenges in U.S. national security policy in front of a distinguished panel of judges.

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 2023 CNAS National Security Conference, which will take place on June 6.

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. 

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

  • Technology and National Security: What new ideas in U.S. technology policy (whether that’s financial technology, industrial policy, communications technology, defense technology, etc.) can address growing national security challenges for the United States and strengthen the safety and prosperity of the American people?
  • Institutions and People Power: What specific reform to critical U.S. national security institutions (including structures, processes, and human capital) can improve their effectiveness and public confidence in the face of new challenges?
  • Military Modernization: What new ideas, strategies, or reforms could the U.S. Department of Defense implement (across personnel, hardware, institutions, or processes) to better meet the challenges of the future?

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be between 25 and 35 years old, as of June 6, 2024.
  • Be available to present their pitch virtually at the first round on Wednesday, April 24, and in person on Thursday, June 6 for the final round, should they be selected.
  • Be one of the following: a U.S. citizen, or enrolled in a U.S. educational institution, or reside in the United States.

Complete applications include:

  • A résumé
  • A 280-character (including spaces) summary of your idea
  • A 30-second video pitch of why your idea should be selected
    • Please note that your application will be judged on the quality of your idea, not the video’s production quality. Videos do not need to be high quality and should be shot on a camera phone or comparable recorder. Please see our example videos from a past competition for reference.

If you have any questions about the application process, please see the FAQs or email thepitch@cnas.org.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PM ET on Monday, March 18, 2024. Decisions will be conveyed via email to all applicants in late March/early April.

If a prospective applicant is unable to submit the required video due to disability, please contact thepitch@cnas.org to obtain a reasonable accommodation.