Bill of Rights Institute

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Bill of Rights Institute
Bill of Rights Institute logo
Founded September 1999 (1999-09)
Founder Charles G. Koch and the
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
Type Educational Charity
  • 200 North Glebe Road
    Arlington, Virginia 22203
Coordinates 38°52′19″N 77°06′13″W / 38.8720°N 77.1036°W / 38.8720; -77.1036Coordinates: 38°52′19″N 77°06′13″W / 38.8720°N 77.1036°W / 38.8720; -77.1036
Area served
United States
Key people
· David Bobb
Board of Directors
· Mark Humphrey
· Ryan Stowers
· Rob Testwuide
· Todd Zywicki
Mission Educating young people about the Constitution

The Bill of Rights Institute (BRI) is a nonprofit educational organization based in Arlington, Virginia that develops educational resources on American history and government, provides professional development opportunities to teachers, and runs student programs and scholarship contests. Since its founding in 1999, BRI says that its educational programs and resources have contributed to the education of approximately 4.3 million students regarding the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.[1] It has been described as promoting a conservative view of the United States Constitution.[2]


BRI states that its mission is to "educate young people about the words and ideas of America's Founders, the liberties guaranteed in our Founding documents, and how our Founding principles continue to affect and shape a free society."[3][4]


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.[5] Hughes led the organization for a decade until her departure, after which Tony Woodlief filled her position as president. David Bobb, a former Hillsdale College professor and head of its Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, became BRI's president in December 2013.[6]

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.[7] Koch recognized that the educational system could benefit greatly from the types of supplemental services that the Bill of Rights Institute provides to educators.[8]

Organization operations[edit]

Professional development[edit]

BRI runs educational programs for teachers around the country.[9] 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;[10] University of Texas School of Law and Professor Dr. H.W. Perry, Jr.[11] BRI says it has reached over 22,000 teachers through professional development seminars.[1]

BRI co-sponsors programs with Liberty Fund.[12] and the Joe Foss Institute.

Printed educational resources[edit]

  • Preserving the Bill of Rights: With Modifications to Support Literacy and English Language Learners (2014)
  • Preserving the Bill of Rights (2013)[13]
  • Heroes & Villains: The Quest for Civic Virtue (2013) [14]
  • Being an American High School Edition with English Language Learners Guide (2013)
  • 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)[13]
  • Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases That Changed History, Vols. I (2007)[15] & II (2013)
  • 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)[13]
  • Media and American Democracy (2005)[16]
  • Founders and the Constitution: In their Own Words, Vols. I (2004) & II (2005)[13]

Online educational resources[edit]

Bill of Rights Institute 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.[17]

In August 2014, Bill of Rights Institute launched Documents of Freedom, a free digital course on history, government, and economics. The course builds on excerpts from over 100 primary sources, including the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, presidential speeches, Supreme Court cases, and the Founding documents; and it offers an extensive set of original essays, focusing on principles such as federalism, separation of powers, limited government, checks and balances, republican government, consent of the governed, natural rights, rule of law, and due process, as well as virtues like self-governance, humility, integrity, justice, perseverance, respect, contribution, and responsibility.[18]

Bill of Rights Institute also has a free digital storehouse of primary source based lesson plans called Voices of History, which contains the following curricula: Being An American, Being An American ELL, Founders and the Constitution, Heroes and Villains, Preserving the Bill of Rights, and Supreme Court Document Based Questions.[19]

Student programs[edit]

In 2006, BRI began a high school essay contest which asks students to reflect on civic values.[20] BRI reports that 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.[20] Individuals who have taken part in the awards weekend include Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor[22] and Clarence Thomas,[23][24] 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 BRI include the Constitutional Academy which provides students with a six-week study of the Constitution in Washington, D.C.[29][30] In 2011 the Ford Motor Company Fund provided scholarships to 11 students to attend the Constitutional Academy.[31]


  1. ^ a b "Our Story". Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  2. ^ Mayer, Jane (August 30, 2010). "Covert Operations". The New Yorker. 
  3. ^ "Mission and Vision: Educating young people about the Constitution". Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  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. ^ "Bobb leaves Kirby". December 5, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  7. ^ Ball, Billy (2013-02-27). "U.S. History According to Charles Koch: The conservative billionaire could be teaching your kids". Indy Week. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Koch Family Foundations and Philanthropy – Bill of Rights Institute". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  9. ^ Provider: The Bill of Rights Institute (November 13, 2008). "The Bill of Rights Institute". Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Profile – Gordon Lloyd". Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Profile – H. W. Perry Jr". University of Texas School of Law. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Liberty Fund". Liberty Fund. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Bill of Rights Institute Curricula". Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Heroes & Villains – A new resource from the Bill of Rights Institute". September 25, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ "New Bill of Rights Institute Curriculum Focuses on Media Literacy". Knight Foundation. May 18, 2005. Retrieved November 12, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Resources for Bill of Rights Day". Bill of Rights Institute. 
  18. ^ "New free online civics course from the Bill of Rights Institute, at Documents of Freedom". The Washington Post. 
  19. ^ "About Voices of History". Bill of Rights Institute. 
  20. ^ a b Vargas, Theresa (March 12, 2009). "Essay Contest Draws Students' Thoughts on American Values". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  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. ^ Suchyta, Sue. "Constitutional Academy inspires student". Dearborn Times-Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2011. 

External links[edit]