Senators Orrin Hatch and Edward Kennedy were appointed as the first Treasurer and the first Chairman, respectively.
The mission of the Foundation is to improve the teaching of the U.S. Constitution in secondary schools throughout the nation. Only teachers, college seniors, and graduates who wish to teach American history, American government, or Civics are eligible to receive a Fellowship.
The Foundation’s budget is approximately $2 million each year. It is funded by Congress and private donations.
The Foundation has awarded 1,706 Fellowships to date.
Fellows have taught history and civics courses to over 2 million students at over 1,100 secondary schools throughout the nation.
The Foundation has helped secondary school teachers of the Constitution receive a Master’s Degree in every state and in some U.S. territories, including Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
The Foundation pays up to $24,000 per fellow to be used in obtaining a Master’s Degree in American History, Political Science, or Government from an accredited university.
Fellows have attended over 350 different universities seeking Master’s Degrees.
In 2020, the Foundation created the Frederick Douglass Fellowship. The Frederick Douglass Fellowship is awarded each year to an applicant who identifies as a person of color.
Fellows are required to take a rigorous 6-credit Summer Institute graduate course, Foundations of American Constitutionalism, in the Washington D.C. area through Georgetown University. The course includes lectures and discussions on the Constitution from academics and prominent public figures, meetings with U.S. government officials, and field trips to important historical sites. The course is taught by well-known and respected academics in the fields of History and Political Science.
Chief Justice John Roberts recently mentioned the Foundation in the 2019 Year-end Report on the Federal Judiciary: “The federal courts cannot, of course, take on the challenge of civic education alone. They depend on generous partners to extend the outreach work.…we at the Supreme Court partner with student and teacher programs sponsored by the other branches of the federal government—including...the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation—in addition to offering our own undergraduate internship program”(p. 4).