Public, Society Benefit


Building a free society, one conversation at a time

Carmel, IN


We support the building of a free society by creating spaces for civil conversations among independent thinkers. ​

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Dr. Jennifer K Thompson

Main Address

11301 N. Meridian Street

Carmel, IN 46032 USA


Education, networking





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

Although we have more tools and avenues for communication than at any time in the past, the substance of conversations has deteriorated and people lack the opportunities and incentives to have open, experimental discussions of the ideas of freedom and how to apply them to their lives. At the Center for the Study of Liberty, we recognize that a peaceful and prosperous society requires not just the free exchange of goods and services, but the free exchange of ideas as well. Yet our public discourse is too often characterized by increasing hostility toward (and a lack of empathy for) those with whom we disagree. The intense anger that pollutes many of today’s conversations leads us to view those with opposing opinions as “the other,” or even, as “un-American.”

Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Ideas at Work

Dinner Round Tables

Virtual Reading Groups

Where we work

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

Through in-person and online conversations led by experienced facilitators, the Center brings people with diverse ideological viewpoints together to read about, respectfully discuss, and think through issues critical to the meaning of liberty and our shared quest for human flourishing. Our events invite participants from all walks of life to listen to and to challenge one another in productive ways. We make conversations possible that offer those involved a richer understanding of important issues that affect their communities. As they leave Center events, participants are equipped with the knowledge and encouragement needed to continue the conversation with family, friends, and others.

We organize collaborative events and curate thought-provoking content so participants at our in-person and online events can explore the big questions about human freedom that lie at the heart of complex social issues. At the Center for the Study of Liberty, we believe that vigorous exchange in the marketplace of ideas is critical to the building and maintenance of a free society. Furthermore, we believe that the responsibility for this kind of exchange belongs to all of us, not just pundits. For this reason, we invite women and men who have a diverse range of professional backgrounds, personal experiences, and ideological perspectives to join us in conversation. At our events, we ask people to talk with one another about the meaning of individual liberty and its relationship to human flourishing. We hope that our events start meaningful discussions that continue well beyond our formal programs.

We have a combined thirty-three years of experience in educational programming for multiple audience types. Our previous experience at organizations like Liberty Fund, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Bill of Rights Institute, and Students for Liberty means that we have access to an extensive network of faculty and the knowledge of which faculty will be best-suited to our target audience and program format.

Our experience of program design and execution also ensures that we know what is required to deliver top-quality programming on time and on budget.

Our indicators of success (short and medium-term) include repeat participation, participant subscription to semi-monthly newsletter, click-through from newsletter to content and opportunities, continued engagement in discussions through Facebook groups, and participant willingness to refer friends and colleagues for future program participation. Long-term indicators include continued patterns of past participant's engagement in additional learning activities (both formal and non-formal), former participant behavioral changes (particularly becoming more active in local, non-political efforts to address societal issues), and anecdotal evidence of an increase in civil conversation by past participants and those in their personal networks. We also have progress indicators related to day-to-day operations, including data management and analysis standards.

Since 2015 and as of March 2018, the Center for the Study of Liberty has conducted twenty-four events (nineteen in-person events, four online, and one hybrid online and in-person. 400 people have attended these events, and the majority have indicated an interest in having continued communication from the Center. We have also conducted extensive research (both in-house and with vendors) on our target audience and their interests and time constraints. Our focus on better knowledge of our audience reflects a desire to tailor programming that will meet the audience interests and preferences. In 2018, we launched a semi-monthly newsletter and continued to expand our in-person and online programming. In September 2018, we received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for 18 months of programming and 27 events.

External Reviews



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

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

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We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity