Committed to Improving Education

Established in 2001, The Hunt Institute honors the legacy of James B. Hunt, Jr., the former governor of North Carolina who distinguished himself as an ardent champion of education.

The Hunt Institute brings together people and resources to inspire and inform elected officials and policymakers about key issues in education, resulting in visionary leaders who are prepared to take strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success.

In 2016, The Hunt Institute became an independent, nonprofit entity and joined forces with Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy to pursue research, educational partnerships, and events related to improving education policy.

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Celebrate 20 Years of The Hunt Institute.

The Honorable James B. Hunt Jr.

Former Governor of North Carolina Jim Hunt (1977-1985, 1993-2001) served four historic terms as governor of the state. Under his leadership in the 1990s, North Carolina public schools improved test scores more than any other state according to the Rand Corporation. Today, Governor Hunt chairs the board of The Hunt Institute, cementing his legacy as a true education governor.

While in office, Governor Hunt focused on early childhood development and improvements in quality of teaching.

Governor Hunt’s Smart Start program received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 1985, he co-chaired the “Committee of 50,” which led to the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy and eventually to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He has also provided education leadership as chairman of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, chaired the National Education Goals Panel, served as board vice chair of Achieve, Inc., and as chairman of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Learn more about America’s first education governor in this video.

Governor Jim Hunt:

"Education can't be just another thing we do. It's the most important thing we do."


To provide unbiased research, technical expertise, and learning opportunities that equip and empower educators and policymakers to drive equitable reforms and become audacious champions for education.


An equitable American education system through which all learners achieve their highest potential in school and life.


Two Female College Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

The Hunt Institute bases its work on the following core beliefs:

Education is the cornerstone of American democracy and must be available to all citizens.

  • A free PreK-12 education is the birthright of every child and should be of sufficient rigor and relevance to ensure high school graduates are prepared for citizenship, college, and work.
  • Access to higher education should be available to all citizens at the most affordable price.
  • Leaders who are endowed with the public trust have a responsibility to make informed decisions that create and maintain educational standards that are second to none in the world.
  • Opportunities for lifelong learning are critical to sustain the nation’s economic health and the prosperity of individuals.

Learn More About Our Approach

Our Team



Human Resources


Early Learning


Higher Education

Educator Diversity

National Programs

State Engagement

Events & Engagement