Bill of Rights Institute
|Founder||Charles G. Koch and the
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
|Tax ID no.||480891418|
|Focus||Educating young people about the Constitution|
|Area served||United States|
|Method||Providing educators with educational resources|
· David Bobb
Board of Directors
· Mark Humphrey
· Ryan Stowers
· Rob Testwuide
· Todd Zywicki
|Mission||Preservation of a free society|
The Bill of Rights Institute (BRI) 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 Bill of Rights.
BRI 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 U.S. Constitution holds.
BRI was founded in September 1999 by billionaire industrialist and philanthropist Charles Koch and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. BRI'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. 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.
BRI runs educational programs for teachers around the country. BRI 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 a BRI master teacher. BRI professors include BRI board member and Professor of Law at George Mason University Todd Zywicki; author and professor of public policy at Pepperdine University Dr. Gordon Lloyd; University of Texas School of Law and Professor Dr. H.W. Perry, Jr. Through their teacher programs BRI says it has reached over 18,5000 teachers.
Printed educational resources
- The Founding Documents: A Three-Act Drama (2011)
- Religious Liberty: The American Experiment (2010);
- Presidents and the Constitution, Vols. I (2009) & II (2010)
- 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)
- 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)
- Media and American Democracy (2005)
- 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
BRI provides online resources for teachers to use throughout the year linked with current and historical events. Resources include lessons and games for Constitution Day on September 17 and Bill of Rights Day on December 15.
BRI runs the largest high school essay contest 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. 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 and Clarence Thomas, journalist John Stossel, journalist and political analyst Juan Williams, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and NBA player Antawn Jamison.
Other student programs run by BRI include the Constitutional Academy which provides students with a six-week study of the Constitution in Washington, D.C. 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.
- "Details – Bill of Rights Institute Arlington, Virginia". Find the Best Non-Profit Organizations.
- "Our History". Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
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- "Oak Ridge student pens winning essay, goes to D.C.". Village Life. May 13, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- "13abc Toledo News and Weather | Ohio Area News | WTVG – Home". Abclocal.go.com. May 6, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
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- "Constitutional Academy". Starinc.brinkster.net. January 14, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
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- Suchyta, Sue. "Constitutional Academy inspires student". Dearborn Times-Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2011.