Our Principles

The Bradley Foundation recognizes that the principles and institutions that characterize American exceptionalism were hard won and can be easily lost. The Foundation is therefore dedicated to a vigorous defense of these foundations of a free society.

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Lynde and Harry Bradley believed not just in freedom, but also in the richness of community and culture that are the basis of a well-lived life. The Bradley Foundation seeks to further those beliefs by supporting the study, defense, and practice of the individual initiative and ordered liberty that lead to prosperity, strong families, and vibrant communities.

The guiding principles which inform the Foundation’s grantmaking include:

Fidelity to the Constitution, with its principles of limited government, federalism, separation of powers, and individual liberties.

The Bradley Foundation believes that the political system envisioned by America’s founders is unique, extraordinary, and must be preserved “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” and to give American citizens room to solve problems effectively on their own. The Foundation stands firmly opposed to forces that would wrest control from individual citizens and instead vest authority in government, especially the national government. The Foundation also seeks to promote understanding of and respect for America’s democratic system and republican institutions, to support federalism, to uphold the rule of law, to protect the nation’s legal system from efforts to circumvent the Constitutional order, to protect the electoral process, to defend the rights of all individuals to political engagement in accordance with the rule of law, and to protect the basic liberties outlined in the Bill of Rights, including the freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Commitment to free markets that allow for private enterprise, entrepreneurship, and voluntary exchange within the rule of law.

The Bradley Foundation believes that such an economic system recognizes the dignity and gives room for the initiative inherent in all men and women. It further believes that such a system is most likely to result in a prosperous economy that improves the prospects for a good life for all citizens. The Bradley brothers owed much of their success to a free enterprise system, and the Foundation works to ensure that this opportunity is available to future generations. The Foundation thus combats efforts to undermine economic freedom and supports organizations and projects that conduct research and educate the public and policymakers about the conditions necessary for economic growth and prosperity.

Commitment to the fundamental institutions of civil society that cultivate individuals capable of self-governance.

America has thrived because of the exceptional strength and vitality of its traditional, local institutions—families, schools, churches, neighborhoods, voluntary associations, and arts and cultural institutions—which cultivate individual character, strengthen community bonds, and encourage genuine citizenship. The Bradley Foundation believes that these are the institutions most able and likely to guide behaviors, transform lives, and support a free society that is culturally vibrant and intellectually vigorous.

Dedication to the formation of informed and capable citizens.

The Bradley Foundation recognizes that our liberties are secure and will endure only insofar as Americans value and uphold the principles and institutions of American exceptionalism. Therefore, the Foundation supports educational efforts to give citizens the character, habits, and knowledge needed to succeed in a free society and the Foundation works to educate citizens as to the principles, restraint, and institutions that are the basis for such freedoms.