Bill of Rights Institute

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Bill of Rights Institute
Bill of Rights Institute logo
Type Educational Charity
Tax ID No. 480891418[1]
Founded September 1999 (1999-09)
Founder(s) Charles G. Koch and the
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
  • 200 North Glebe Road
    Arlington, Virginia 22203
Key people President
· Tony Woodlief
Board of Directors
· Mark Humphrey
· Ryan Stowers
· Rob Testwuide
· Todd Zywicki
Area served United States
Focus(es) Educating young people about the Constitution
Mission Preservation of a free society
Method(s) Providing educators with educational resources
Owner Independent[1]

The Bill of Rights Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charitable organization based in Arlington, Virginia, which produces instructional materials and conducts educational programs around the United States for teachers and students with the intent of expanding the understanding of the freedoms that the Bill of Rights provides to Americans, and the important role that they play in maintaining a free society.[2]

Since its founding in 1999, the Institute has provided approximately 1.9 million students across the country with educational materials on the United States Constitution.[2]

Stated goals[edit]

The Institute states that its goal is to "help the next generation understand the freedom and opportunity the Constitution offers" by providing educators with the tools they need to effectively communicate to their students the importance that the Constitution holds.[3][4]


The Institute was founded in September 1999 by billionaire industrialist and philanthropist Charles Koch and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. The Institute's first president, Victoria Hughes, was a teacher who had also held a number of executive roles in other non-profit organizations. Hughes later became a member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.[5] Hughes led the organization for a decade until her departure, after which Tony Woodlief filled her position as President.

Koch has explained that he became concerned with education in the field of constitutional law after he saw that many high school teachers had inadequate resources to develop educational materials on the principles, institutions, and ideas upon which the United States was founded. Koch recognized that the educational system could benefit greatly from the types of supplemental services that the Bill of Rights Institute provides to educators.[6]

Organization operations[edit]

Professional development[edit]

The Bill of Rights Institute runs educational programs for educators around the country.[7] The Institute conducted 64 constitutional seminars in the 2010–2011 school year, often held at historic sites such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon or James Madison’s Montpelier. Seminars include instruction from a university professor and training by an Institute master teacher. Institute professors include Bill of Rights Institute board member and Foundation Professor of Law at George Mason University Todd Zywicki, author and professor of public policy at Pepperdine University Dr. Gordon Lloyd,[8] University of Texas School of Law and Professor Dr. H.W. Perry, Jr.[9] Through their teacher programs the Institute has reached over 18,5000 teachers.[2]

The Institute also co-sponsors programs with Liberty Fund.[10]

Printed educational resources[edit]

  • The Founding Documents: A Three-Act Drama (2011)
  • Religious Liberty: The American Experiment (2010);[11]
  • Presidents and the Constitution, Vols. I (2009) & II (2010)[12]
  • Property Rights in America: Yours, Mine, or Ours? (2009)
  • Being an American: Exploring the Ideals that Unite Us (2004) & Second Edition (2008)
  • Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases That Changed History (2007)[13]
  • Celebrate the Constitution: Why Do We Need a Constitution? (2007)
  • Conflict and Continuity: The Story of American Freedom (2006)
  • Faces of Freedom In American History (2006)
  • The Bill of Rights and You: Rights and Responsibilities (2006)
  • The Bill of Rights for Real Life (2005)[14]
  • Media and American Democracy (2005)[15]
  • Founders and the Constitution: In their Own Words, Vols. I (2004) & II (2005)
  • Citizenship and Character: Understanding America’s Civic Values (2003)

Online educational resources[edit]

The Institute also provides online resources for teachers to use throughout the year linked with current and historical events. They have lessons and games for Constitution Day on September 17[16][17] and Bill of Rights Day on December 15.[18][19]

Student programs[edit]

The Institute runs the largest high school essay contest[20] in the country and has awarded over $500,000 in prizes to both students and teachers. Over 80,000 students in all 50 states have participated in the contest since 2006.[21] Winners are flown to Washington, D.C. for an awards weekend including education programs and historic site visits. Individuals who have taken part in the awards weekend include Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor[22] and Clarence Thomas,[23][24] reporter and investigative journalist John Stossel,[25][26] journalist and political analyst Juan Williams,[27][28] Judge Andrew Napolitano, and NBA player Antawn Jamison.

Other student programs run by the Bill of Rights Institute include the Constitutional Academy which provides students with an in-depth six-week study of the Constitution, while traveling to Washington D.C. to see the historic documents and locales in person.[29][30] Various organizations like the Daniels Fund and the Ford Motor Company Fund provide a limited number of scholarships to promising students who have a strong interest in learning about the Constitution.[31][32]


  1. ^ a b "Details – Bill of Rights Institute Arlington, Virginia". Find the Best Non-Profit Organizations. 
  2. ^ a b c "Our History". Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved December 12, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Mission: Educating young people about the Constitution". Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Bill of Rights Institute | EDSITEment". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Members and Organizations – Victoria Hughes". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Koch Family Foundations and Philanthropy – Bill of Rights Institute". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  7. ^ Provider: The Bill of Rights Institute (November 13, 2008). "The Bill of Rights Institute". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Profile – Gordon Lloyd". Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Profile – H. W. Perry Jr". University of Texas School of Law. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Liberty Fund". Liberty Fund. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Bill of Rights Institute". September 21, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Bill of Rights Institute releases new curriculum, Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases that Changed History". eSchool News. September 14, 2007. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Bill of Rights Institute – The Bill of Rights for Real Life teacher resource". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  15. ^ "New Bill of Rights Institute Curriculum Focuses on Media Literacy". Knight Foundation. May 18, 2005. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ Front, Georgia (September 2, 2010). "Patriotic Potpourri: The Bill of Rights Institute Celebrates Constitution Day, September 17, 2010 with Free Resources for Teachers". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  17. ^ "oelebrate 'Constitution Day' with free teacher resources". Tri City Voice. September 14, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  18. ^ "EDITORIAL: Celebrate the Bill of Rights". Washington Times. December 14, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  19. ^ "On 'Bill of Rights Day,' group urges Americans to read the first 10 amendments, sign pledge". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Ashe County High Student Wins National Essay Contest, $5000". March 24, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Enter the Being an American Essay Contest". Bill of Rights Institute. September 17, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Being an American Essay Contest deadline approaches – Auburn Reporter". November 10, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  23. ^ Liptak, Adam (April 13, 2009). "Sidebar – Reticent Justice Opens Up to a Group of Students". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Justice Thomas on National Identity and Citizenship – C-SPAN Video Library". March 31, 2009. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  25. ^ No Author (December 1, 2010). "Juan Williams And John Stossel Support High School Essay Contest On Being An American". TheCypressTimes. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  26. ^ "DVIDS – News – Daughter of Lake Barkley Corps employee wins top honors in National Essay Contest". April 13, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  27. ^ "Oak Ridge student pens winning essay, goes to D.C.". Village Life. May 13, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  28. ^ "13abc Toledo News and Weather | Ohio Area News | WTVG – Home". May 6, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Scholarships available to attend Constitutional Academy – Petoskey News". March 30, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Constitutional Academy". January 14, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  31. ^ Johnson, MaryJo. "Fund Accepting Applications for Constitutional Academy Scholarship". Sheridan Media. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  32. ^ Suchyta, Sue. "Constitutional Academy inspires student". Dearborn Times-Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 

External links[edit]