Leadership Institute

The Leadership Institute (LI)


The Leadership Institute (LI) was founded in 1979 by Morton C. Blackwell who serves as its current president. The Institute specializes in training potential conservative political leaders in campaigns, fundraising, grassroots organization, youth politics, and communications.1About the Leadership Institute,” Leadership Institute. Archived October 21, 2015. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6cR2AENf6

According to their website, “The Institute teaches conservatives of all ages how to succeed in politics, government, and the media” and has trained more than 168,000 conservative activists, leaders, and students.2About the Leadership Institute,” Leadership Institute. Archived October 21, 2015. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6cR2AENf6 The website also states that the Leadership Institute “doesn’t analyze policy; it teaches conservative Americans how to influence policy through direct participation, activism, and leadership.”

In their own words, the Leadership Institute hosts sessions across their country where they train “freedom fighters” to “learn how to defeat the radical left.”3Leadership Institute-trained freedom fighters gather in Washington, DC,” Leadership Institute, January 22, 2010. Archived October 21, 2015. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6cSDK1iSG

Morton Blackwell has also served as Executive Director of the secretive Council for National Policy, a foundation Right Wing Watch describes as composed of leaders of right wing public policy organizations, major donors, and noted conservative leaders. Blackwell is also the Chairman and founder of the Conservative Leadership PAC.4Morton C. Blackwell,” American Conservative Union. Archived August 16, 2000. 5Leadership Institute,” Right Wing Watch. Archived October 21, 2015.

The Leadership Institute runs the Campus Reform project (CampusReform.org), which has encouraged students to set up programs on their campuses to help “expose the leftist abuses on your campus.”6Climategate Scandal Not Over Yet,” Campus Reform, May 27, 2010. Archived October 21, 2015. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6cSCCHcam

The Leadership Institute proclaims that it “actively supports the entire conservative movement.”7About the Leadership Institute,” Leadership Institute. Archived October 21, 2015. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6cR2AENf6

Stance on Climate Change

The Leadership Institute offers an “activism idea” to create a “Global Warming Beach Party” and further offers activism grants to help cover the cost of materials.8Global Warming Beach Party,” Leadership Institute. Accessed October 20, 2015.

The video (see below) quotes climate change skeptic Richard Lindzen and suggests to “distribute literature that highlights misinformation spread by environmental extremists and shows the damage that liberal environmental policies cause the economy.” The Leadership Institute promises to promote some of these user-submitted videos on their Campus Reform website as well as other media.

Here is a quote taken from the Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform project blog in 2009:

“For the leftist activists, COP 15 and the protest was about changing the system (aka ending capitalism). Climate change is merely an excuse to collapse capitalism and switch to socialists economic systems.”9Justin Pulliam. “Hopenhagen Socialism Part 1: ‘Change the System’,” CampusReform.org, December 22, 2009. Archived December 22, 2009.


The following is based on data the Conservative Transparency project compiled from publicly available 990 tax forms. Note that not all values have been verified by DeSmog.10Leadership Institute,” (search string), Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved July 6, 2016.

See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on the Leadership Institute’s funding by year (.xlsx).

Leadership Institute as Recipient

F.M. Kirby Foundation$1,200,000
Ed Uihlein Family Foundation$1,165,000
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation$950,000
Dorothy D. and Joseph A. Moller Foundation$796,725
Schwab Charitable Fund$739,321
Donors Capital Fund$630,500
Castle Rock Foundation$630,000
The Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation$425,000
Adolph Coors Foundation$385,000
Armstrong Foundation$375,000
Stuart Family Foundation$277,000
Bochnowski Family Foundation$230,000
Bill and Berniece Grewcock Foundation$220,000
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation$220,000
The Rodney Fund$207,000
Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation$137,138
Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation$137,000
National Christian Charitable Foundation$129,175
Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation$109,500
Orville D. and Ruth A. Merillat Foundation$102,000
Bradley Impact Fund$100,000
DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative$75,000
Diana Davis Spencer Foundation$63,000
Charles Koch Institute$55,654
The Whitcomb Charitable Foundation$52,000
John William Pope Foundation$50,000
Dodge Jones Foundation$50,000
Joe R Lee Family Foundation$45,000
National Philanthropic Trust$33,650
The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation$31,500
Holman Foundation$30,000
JM Foundation$28,000
The Roe Foundation$26,000
Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation$25,000
The Challenge Foundation$22,500
Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking$19,900
Legett Foundation$17,500
Kickapoo Springs Foundation$15,000
Richard Seth Staley Educational Foundation$10,000
True Foundation$10,000
Eric Javits Family Foundation$9,500
John Templeton Foundation$8,000
Lowndes Foundation$6,000
The Howell Foundation$5,500
The Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation$5,000
John P and Kathryn G Evans Foundation$3,800
The Randolph Foundation$3,000
Robert and Marie Hansen Foundation$3,000
The A William and Eileen Pratt Foundation$2,300
Cato Institute$2,000
Concerned Women for America$1,000
Jewish Community Fund$1,000
Joyce and Donald Rumsfeld Foundation$500
Heritage Foundation$200
George and Reva Graziadio Foundation$100
Grand Total$10,724,751

Leadership Institute as Donor

Longwood University$50,000
St. Andrews Episcopal School$50,000
The Heritage Foundation$45,935
National Right To Work Legal Defense Fund$44,435
Alliance Defense Fund$42,435
Campus Crusade$42,435
Gideons International$42,435
International Mission Board$42,435
Pacific Legal Foundation$42,435
Citizens Against Government Waste$30,518
Langdon School$25,000
Cato Institute$21,218
Concerned Women for America$21,217
Media Research Center$92,818
Free Congress Foundation$10,000
Mercatus Center$3,500
Bill of Rights Institute$2,500
Mass Eye and Ear Institute$2,500
Milton Rose D Friedman Foundation$1,500
Princeton University$1,500
Tax Foundation$1,500
American Red Cross$1,000
David Horowitz Freedom Center$1,000
Hillsdale College$1,000
Intercollegiate Studies Institute$1,000
Parents TV Council$1,000
Salvation Army$1,000
The Claremont Institute$1,000
The Fund for American Studies$1,000
The James Madison Institute$1,000
The National Center for Public Policy$1,000
The Objectivist Center$1,000
US English Foundation$1,000
Young America’s Foundation$1,000
American Council on Science Health$500
Americans for Prosperity$500
Competitive Enterprise Institute$500
Freedom Works$500
Hospice Education Institute$500
Institute for Justice$500
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library$500
US Naval Academy Foundation$500
Grand Total$633,816

Koch Funding

The Leadership Institute has received at least $278,958 from Koch-related foundations between 2003 and 2017.11Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” Greenpeace USA. Accessed March 14, 2017. Data on file at DeSmog.

*Note that original tax records prior to 1997 are not available for verification.12Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine,” Greenpeace USA. Accessed March 14, 2017. Data on file at DeSmog.

YearCharles G. Koch Charitable FoundationClaude R. Lambe Charitable FoundationCharles Koch InstituteGrand Total
1995*$12,000  $12,000
2003 $15,000 $15,000
2004 $50,000 $50,000
2006 $24,500 $24,500
2012$7,199$20,000 $27,199
2014$52,112 $19,200$71,312
2015$39,979 $11,200$51,179
2016$14,812 $8,000$22,812
2017$11,036 $5,920$16,956
2018  $11,334$11,334
Grand Total$137,138$109,500$55,654$302,292

Other Funding

Information from the 1995 “Foundation Directory” (PDF) archived by Greenpeace shows that the Leadership Institute Received $65,000 from the Carthage Foundation in 1992.13The Foundation Directory, 1995 Edition, P. 1349 (PDF). Archived by Greenpeace.

The LI has in turn funded the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR)PR watch reports.14Lisa Graves. “Right-Wing Operatives Take Up ALEC’s Voter Suppression Agenda,” PR Watch, April 19, 2012. Archived October 21, 2015.

990 Forms

Key People

View key people by year below, or view the attached spreadsheet for a full list of the Leadership Institute’s key People (.xlsx) including sources.

Other People

According to SourceWatch, past students at the LI have included:15The Leadership Institute,” SourceWatch. Archived October 21, 2015.


February 22–25, 2017

The Leadership Institute was a Supporting Sponsor of the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), among a range of other conservative and pro-industry groups.16CPAC 2017 Sponsors,” cpac.conservative.org. Archived March 6, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/SKFRU

July 7–9, 2015

The LI was a Co-Sponsor of the Heartland Institute‘s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, DC.17Sponsors,” ICCC10. Archived July 15, 2015.

July 7–9, 2014

The Leadership Institute was an official Co-Sponsor of the Heartland Institute’s Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9).18“ICCC9 CoSponsors,” International Conferences on Climate Change (The Heartland Institute). Archived July 27, 2015.

May 21–23, 2012

The Leadership Institute was a “Gold Sponsor” (PDF) of the Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7).19Seventh International Conference on Climate Change: Sponsored by the Heartland Institute” (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Archived August 15, 2015.

May 27, 2010

The Leadership Institute’s Campus Reform project encourages students to “fight back” by setting up groups on their campus to challenge or implicate climate change researchers supposedly involved in “Climategate.”20Climategate Scandal Not Over Yet,” Campus Reform, May 27, 2010. Archived October 21, 2015. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6cSCCHcam

Campus Reform tells students to ask questions like “what professors are researching and what foundations or entities are funding his or her research. Are they implicated in the Climategate scandal? Email the professors and ask their opinions on the situation. Try to see if they are willing to be transparent with their data.” Campus Reform says that their goal is to “help you expose the leftist abuses on your campus”

May 16–18, 2010

The LI was a Co-Sponsor (PDF) of the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4).21Co-Sponsors,” The 2010 International Conference on Climate Change, January 16, 2010. Archived January 24, 2010.

December, 2009

The LI’s Campus Reform Project promoted the formation of groups to “highlight the absurdity of climate change claims” with the specific purpose of getting media attention and starting a movement on campus to “share information about Climategate and climate change with other students.”22Can’t Go to Copenhagen? You Can Still Party for a Good Cause,” Campusreform, December 8, 2009. (*Page no longer available on live web, or on web archive).

June 7, 2002

LI President Morton Blackwell was a signatory to a letter to President Bush urging him to withdraw the Climate Action Report 2002 and to “direct that it be re-written on the basis of sound science and without relying on discredited products of the previous administration.”

Signatories also urged Bush “to dismiss or re-assign all administration employees who are not pursuing your agenda, just as you have done in several similar instances.”23Joint Letter To President Bush On The EPA’s Climate Action Report,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, June 7, 2002. Archived October 21, 2015. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6cSBlfiq8

Leadership Institute Contact & Location

As of June 2016, the Leadership Institute listed the following contact information on its website:24Contact the Leadership Institute,” Leadership Institute. Archived June 29, 2016. WebCite URL: http://www.webcitation.org/6icOHwVn9

Leadership Institute
Steven P.J. Wood Building, 1101 N Highland St, 
Arlington, VA, 22201

Phone: (703) 247-2000
Fax: (703) 247-2001

Social Media

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