Bill of Rights Institute

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Bill of Rights Institute
Bill of Rights Institute logo
FoundedSeptember 1999 (1999-09)
FounderCharles G. Koch and the
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
TypeEducational Charity
  • 1310 North Courthouse Road
    Arlington, Virginia 22203
Coordinates38°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

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. It has been described as promoting a conservative view of the United States Constitution.[1]


BRI was founded in September 1999 by industrialist 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

Organization operations[edit]

Professional development[edit]

BRI runs educational programs for teachers around the country.[5] 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.[6] BRI says it has reached over 22,000 teachers through professional development seminars.

Online educational resources[edit]

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.[7]

Student programs[edit]

In 2006, BRI began a high school essay contest which asks students to reflect on civic values.[8] Individuals who have taken part in the awards weekend include Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor[9] and Clarence Thomas,[10][11] journalist John Stossel,[12][13] journalist and political analyst Juan Williams,[14][15] 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.[16][17] In 2011 the Ford Motor Company Fund provided scholarships to 11 students to attend the Constitutional Academy.[18]


  1. ^ Mayer, Jane (August 30, 2010). "Covert Operations". The New Yorker.
  2. ^ "Members and Organizations – Victoria Hughes". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  3. ^ "Bobb leaves Kirby". December 5, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  4. ^ Ball, Billy (February 27, 2013). "U.S. History According to Charles Koch: The conservative billionaire could be teaching your kids". Indy Week. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Provider: The Bill of Rights Institute (November 13, 2008). "The Bill of Rights Institute". Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  6. ^ "Profile – H. W. Perry Jr". University of Texas School of Law. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  7. ^ "New free online civics course from the Bill of Rights Institute, at Documents of Freedom". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ Vargas, Theresa (March 12, 2009). "Essay Contest Draws Students' Thoughts on American Values". Washington Post. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  9. ^ "Being an American Essay Contest deadline approaches – Auburn Reporter". November 10, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  10. ^ Liptak, Adam (April 13, 2009). "Sidebar – Reticent Justice Opens Up to a Group of Students". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  11. ^ "Justice Thomas on National Identity and Citizenship – C-SPAN Video Library". March 31, 2009. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  12. ^ No Author (December 1, 2010). "Juan Williams And John Stossel Support High School Essay Contest On Being An American". TheCypressTimes. Archived from the original on October 9, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  13. ^ "DVIDS – News – Daughter of Lake Barkley Corps employee wins top honors in National Essay Contest". April 13, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  14. ^ "Oak Ridge student pens winning essay, goes to D.C." Village Life. May 13, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  15. ^ "13abc Toledo News and Weather | Ohio Area News | WTVG – Home". May 6, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Scholarships available to attend Constitutional Academy – Petoskey News". March 30, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  17. ^ "Constitutional Academy". January 14, 2010. Archived from the original on August 27, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
  18. ^ Suchyta, Sue. "Constitutional Academy inspires student". Dearborn Times-Herald. Retrieved December 22, 2011.

External links[edit]