Public, Society Benefit


  • Oakland, CA

Mission Statement

The Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly research and educational organization that sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues. The mission of the Independent Institute is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity.

Main Programs

  1. Education
Service Areas



The Independent Institute is located in Oakland, California, and addresses public policy issues at the local, state, national and international level.

ruling year


Principal Officer since 1986


Mr. David J. Theroux



Social Benefit, Public Policy, Research, Publications, Education

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Physical Address

100 Swan Way



Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (W05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (Q05)

Economics (as a Social Science) (V22)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

Independent Institute Fellows provide briefings and testimony based on our studies to policy-makers and advisors, which information is then used by policy makers in formulating alternative policy solutions that rely on market mechanisms vs. mandates, including for reforms in healthcare, housing, and education policy.

Independent studies have been cited in two U.S. Supreme Court rulings, as well as numerous state Supreme and Federal Court rulings.

Our non-partisan studies influence the broader culture through extensive coverage in multi-media outlets, achieving a reach in FY15 of 5.7 billion across print, broadcast, and electronic media. Our active online presence provides a forum for education and idea exchange among individuals and networks internationally, including combined views of our YouTube informational videos exceeding 1.5 million in the current year.

Independent publications are used in college courses nationally, including more than 30,000 articles downloaded each month for course readings, and our summer programs provide education and training to college students.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1


In order to understand both the nature of and possible solutions to major public issues, the Independent Institute's program adheres to the highest standards of independent inquiry, and this program is pursued regardless of prevailing political or social biases and conventions. The resulting studies are widely published and distributed as books, articles in The Independent Review, periodic Independent Policy Reports, Working Papers, and other publications. Conferences, forums, and debates sponsored by the Institute bring together scholars and policy experts to debate policy issues and discuss their implications. The Independent Institute's research program features the following Centers founded to further the Institute/s scholarly and educational mission, each of which adheres to the highest peer-review standards and communications practices:  The Center on Educational Excellence,  The Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation ? The Center on Global Prosperity ? The Center on Health and the Environment ? The Center on Law and Justice ? The Center on Peace and Liberty In addition, the Institute?s academic programs include the Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest for college students and junior faculty members, Summer Seminars in Political Economy for high school and college students, Student Internships for college and graduate students, and the Independent Scholarship Fund, providing tuition assistance for K?12 students to attend private schools in the California East Bay area.



Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The goal of the Independent Institute is to equip and encourage networks of action in creating the institutions and traditions that promote and protect free, prosperous, and peaceful societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. We seek to create programs that craft and connect leading edge ideas that will change minds and shift the culture towards valuing individual rights, natural law, a free economy, and the Rule of Law.

    Within the context of this goal, Independent works to redefine narratives in key, strategic areas. Independent broadens conversations to include innovative, market-based solutions to critical issues of the day, with the goal of sparking an open debate about the role of government and choice in society.

    Current issue areas include healthcare, government spending and debt, immigration, economic growth and opportunity, intellectual property, protection for individual liberties, money and banking, water, national defense, energy, and expanding access to quality educational programs. Independent is also strategically accelerating introduction of these insights to new audiences through multimedia, online channels, and expanded student programs, with a special focus on reaching millennials.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Independent believes that shifts in culture and the prospects for a better future are not found solely in Ivory Towers or the halls of capitols, but in the enterprise, civic virtues, and institutions of Main Street. This unique theory of change strategically informs our work to change minds, inspire action, and catalyze positive change.

    Independent creates path-breaking analysis, ideas, and solutions around the most pressing contemporary social and economic policy questions. Key focus areas are identified through yearly, strategic analysis in partnership with Independent's Executive Staff, Board of Directors, Research Fellows, and Board of Advisors.

    Independent then works with leading scholars to develop innovative books and other publications projects around these questions. Independent selects scholars based on track record and work quality—not mere name recognition—and no politicians are retained as fellows. This affords our work unrivaled independence from partisan influence or scholarly compromise. All studies must pass a rigorous peer-review process that ensures intellectual excellence and the ability to withstand any and all scrutiny.

    The Insights of Independent's research are then introduced to the public conversation through channels such as:

    • Books and other publications;
    • Op-eds and articles;
    • Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
    • TV and radio interviews;
    • Conferences and public events;
    • The Independent Review (peer-reviewed, quarterly journal);
    • The Independent (quarterly, print newsletter);
    • The Lighthouse (weekly e-newsletter);
    • Independent Thought (semi-annual compendium of media articles)
    • Multimedia projects such as our MyGovCost Government Cost Calculator; and
    • Student programs such as the Challenge of Liberty Seminars and year-round internships.

    Independent maximizes the impact of our resources by executing these programs with remarkable efficiency, with fundraising and G&A accounting for only 15% of expenses. Independent achieves this by partnering with scholars at outside educational, business, civic, religious, and policy institutions and compensating Fellows on a performance basis only after their work completes the peer-review process.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Independent is uniquely equipped for success in pursuit of its mission to advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies. Key differentiators include:

    Media Acumen: Independent is proactive and aggressive in promoting the results of its work across media and public debate forums. Independent successfully publicizes the findings of our work across leading broadcast, online, and print outlets including CNN, BBC Fox News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and This year, Independent successfully placed 783 pieces of content in 1,501 outlets. Additionally, we reach countless others across our massive audiences on social media sites, and Independent websites such as, MyGovCost, and El Instituto Independiente (Spanish language site).

    Scholarly Independence: All of Independent's fellows are respected scholars and experts, and none are politicians. We believe that other major think tanks' practice of having political figures as their top executives and/or fellows limits their credibility and audience, and results in a focus on politically acceptable positions and issues as defined by the culture of political centers. By contrast, Independent is willing to address all social and economic issues. As a result, Independent has been at the cutting edge of international and domestic policy analysis.

    Strong Bonds with Top Scholars: Close ties with top minds position Independent as a leader in developing innovative ideas, analysis, and policy solutions. Independent works with leading scholars from a range of top universities and research institutions. Independent provides an unrivaled forum for scholars to advance and spread bold ideas. This develops strong bonds that position Independent at the leading edge of the intellectual culture.

    Strength in Publishing: Independent annually produces more books and eBooks than any other think tank, and because these books are not limited to short-term issues, they endure. Because all of Independent's publications are scholarly and peer-reviewed, Independent has never had a study refuted. Independent's work is independently recognized by its exceptional number of awards, including to date 3 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, 6 IPPY Best Book Awards, 8 Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Awards, and many more.

    Unmatched Efficiency: Because of a flexible organizational structure, Independent is the most cost-effective think tank. Unrivaled innovation leads Independent to leverage contributions, with 85¢ of every dollar sent directly to program services: the highest percentage of any group.

    Networks: Independent works closely with many organizations to create communities, reaching out to influence opinion leaders and the public. Additionally, our robust array of Student Programs, including Summer Seminars and Learning to Lead Internships Program provide the next generation of professionals with the knowledge and tools necessary to make an impact for liberty.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Independent is committed to evaluating success at all points across our program, from content development to media outreach. Key indicators that are tracked and analyzed to maximize impact include:

    • Number of books and other publications developed, published, and distributed annually;
    • Number of op-eds developed and placed, TV/Radio interviews conducted, videos produced, mentions or quotes of Independent work in media, and circulation of media content;
    • Number of students served through Seminars, Internship and other programs and attendees at Independent events;
    • Number of followers on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube), number of viewers of multimedia content, and visitors to Independent sites like and; and
    • Number of legislative/judicial citations of Independent work and testimonies delivered before policymakers and other influential bodies.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Since its founding, Independent has had a profound impact on the public conversation. Our work to shift the culture has yielded the following, among much more:

    • Producing over 100 books and other publications, along with 76 issues of the peer-reviewed, quarterly journal, The Independent Review;
    • Influencing public debate through numerous educational events and publications;
    • Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions and 2 U.S. Appeals Court decisions citing Independent Institute books
    • Placing countless interviews with and articles by Independent Research Fellows across broadcast, print, online, and social media;
    • Receiving dozens of awards, from policy and publishing;
    • Serving over 450 alumni of Independent Student Programs;
    • Delivering expert testimony before federal, state, and local lawmakers; and
    • Reaching 450,000-plus combined followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Service Areas



The Independent Institute is located in Oakland, California, and addresses public policy issues at the local, state, national and international level.

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Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.




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Principal Officer

Mr. David J. Theroux


David J. Theroux is Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Independent Institute and Publisher of The Independent Review. He received his B.S., A.B., and M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. He is Founder and President of the C.S. Lewis Society of California, and he was founding Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs for the Cato Institute and founding President of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy.Mr. Theroux is the editor of the books, The Energy Crisis, Private Rights and Public Lands (with and Politics and Tyranny, and his scholarly articles have appeared in the Journal of Private Enterprise, Culture and Civilization, and elsewhere. His articles and reviews have also appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Investor's Business Daily, Washington Times, other publications, and he has appeared on ABC, MSNBC, Fox Business Network, CNN, C-SPAN, NPR, Voice of America, and other local, national, and international TV and radio networks and programs.A contributor to American Political Economy: An Encyclopedia, he has been a director of seven corporations and four foundations, he has been a member of the Koch Crime Commission, Prison Advisory Board for the California Little Hoover Commission, and Executive Committee for the Templeton Collegiate Honor Rolls for Education in a Free Society.



David J. Theroux


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Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?