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The Independence Institute’s Future Leaders Program

We are currently accepting interns!

About the Program

The Independence Institute has full and part-time internship positions available for winter, spring, summer, and fall. Quarter and other alternate semester schedules can be accommodated.  Candidates have an opportunity to be considered for the Liberty Scholarship that provides funds to qualified interns.

The Independence Institute Future Leaders Program is an opportunity to learn from our experts by working on timely and relevant public policy research or projects. The Future Leaders Program trains qualified candidates for a lifetime of influence in the center-right movement. We match our Future Leaders with a policy center director or senior fellow as their mentor to learn how to effect change using a variety of different tools and strategies including in-depth research, policy analysis, academic writing, commentary, and navigating the political landscape, all through a free market lens. Interns participate in Institute events for no fee and have a series of lunch meetings with VIPs, such as newspaper editors, radio personalities, key local leaders and elected officials.

The Independence Institute was incorporated in Colorado in 1985 and was issued an IRS determination letter in 1985 recognizing it as tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).  The Institute remains a highly respected voice in the non-profit community today.


The Independence Institute Liberty Scholarship, made possible by the generous support of Bob and Elaine Collins, provides paid internships at Independence Institute.

The scholarship was founded to recognize extraordinary young people who have shown particular promise as they participate in the Future Leaders Program at Independence Institute.

“Bob and Elaine Collins and Independence Institute share a love of the same values that made Colorado so great, which is a love of personal and economic freedom, respect for strong character and hard work, endless curiosity, and a celebration of taking a risk to create something to bring more value to the world,” commented Jon Caldara, President of Independence Institute.

The scholarship program is proving to be a motivating and impactful aspect of the internship experience. It propels liberty-minded young people to further their academic and professional careers.

With this scholarship, Independence Institute will instill the values that Bob and Elaine lived by as they worked to build their success and we hope our students expand those traits as they launch their own lives and careers.

Independence Institute would like to once again thank Bob and Elaine Collins for making the Independence Institute Liberty Scholarship possible. We look forward to honoring their support by propelling the success of extraordinary Future Leaders.

Selection and Requirements

We look for individuals who are free market oriented. Areas of study considered are, but not limited to, political science, journalism and communications, public policy, philosophy, economics, education, environmental studies, nonprofit management, criminal justice, pre-law and law school students. Good research, writing, and office skills are essential.

To ask questions or apply, please email documents to FutureLeaders@i2i.org

  1. Your current resume
  2. A cover letter to indicate why you are interested in an internship and what you hope to gain at Independence Institute
  3. Completed application
  4. Writing sample (app. 10 pages) it should be something you have written for class
  5. College and Law School (if applicable) Transcripts
  6. List of three references


Applications open: Monday, April 1, 2024
Applications close: Monday, May 20, 2024
Program begins: Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Program ends: Friday, August 2, 2024


An internship with the Education Policy Center provides an opportunity for college or graduate students to gain real-world experience at a state based think-tank. An intern most often acts as a research assistant and will be given some administrative duties including data entry, creating mailing lists, and event planning for the Education Policy Center. The mission of the Education Policy Center is to advance K-12 public policy that empowers parents with the freedom to choose the most beneficial form of education for their children, fosters the development of effective delivery and support systems that enhance student learning, and provides accountability for the productive use of taxpayer dollars directed to education.

An internship with the Energy Policy Center provides an opportunity for college or graduate students to gain real-world experience at a state-based think-tank. An intern most often acts as an energy policy research assistant. Projects can vary widely, and an intern should be prepared for diverse assignments of varying levels of complexity. The mission of the Energy Policy Center is to promote a free market in energy production, where no government action results in energy winners and losers. We advocate that government remain neutral and level the playing field; that way consumer can reap the benefits of a healthy energy market – competition, lower prices, and more options.

An internship in Constitutional Studies enables one to gain real-world experience in legal research, composing briefs and articles, and analogous skills. (Specific projects vary widely.) Interns serve as assistants to one of America’s leading originalist constitutional scholars: a former law professor and historian whose amicus briefs and research articles have been cited frequently by justices and parties in the U.S. Supreme Court and in many other courts. Interns must have successfully completed a basic law school legal research course. Also, helpful, although not required, are research skills in such subjects as history, literature, technology, or economics.

As an intern in Local Government Project, college and/or graduate students will gain experience in grassroots organizing. From researching boards and commissions to engaging citizens in activism, you will get hands on experience in cultivating community relationships. This also involves database management, drafting strategic messaging, and assisting in event planning. This internship will teach the skills necessary to be successful in many chosen career fields. A local government intern will receive a well-rounded experience at the Independence Institute as you learn about and be actively involved in the work within all policy centers.

The Fiscal Policy Center produces substantive policy analysis, educates the public on its findings, and promotes fiscal policy ideas centered around the principles of limited government, the free market, and the liberty of individuals and families to choose where their money goes. Interns for the center will assist the center’s director by conducting research and writing on a wide range of issues falling within the broad purview of fiscal and tax policy. With an eye towards tax, spending, and economics, tasks could reach into the realm of municipal and state budgets, taxpayer-funded economic development incentives, government enterprises and fees, transportation, housing programs, healthcare, education, and more.

Interns should be prepared to tackle complex assignments from a free market and limited government perspective. An understanding of the basic principles of micro economics is expected. Further knowledge of economics, budgeting, tax policy, and/or accounting is helpful, though not required. Interns may also have the opportunity to attend political events outside of the office.

Independence Institute partners with the Koch Internship Program (KIP) to offer internships with a weekly stipend.

KIP combines an educational approach that puts the student in the driver’s seat with hands-on work experience for future leaders interested in making a difference in the world.

Through KIP, interns learn about impactful careers in social entrepreneurship, where leaders who come from all walks of life use their unique gifts to advance positive changes in society and help people improve their lives.

Click here for more information

The Second Amendment Project studies the legal precedents, news and opinions in Colorado and the United States to provide the Constitutional perspective on topics ranging from legal reform to gun rights. An internship with the Second Amendment Project provides an opportunity for undergraduate, graduate, or law students to gain real-world experience in a public policy environment. While specific intern projects are dependent on the needs of the project at the time, an intern most often acts as a research assistant. Projects can vary widely within the Second Amendment policy space, and an intern should be prepared for diverse assignments of varying levels of complexity. Staff may also give interns opportunities to participate in research or other activities outside of the office.

Legal interns at II work directly with one of America’s top constitutional scholars, David Kopel. Professor Kopel teaches advanced constitutional law at the University of Denver and is the nation’s premier expert on the Second Amendment. Professor Kopel has written extensively on a wide range of constitutional, historical, and philosophical topics. He served on the oral argument team in District of Columbia v. Heller, and his scholarship and briefs have been cited dozens of times by the U.S. and state supreme courts and by lower courts. Work with Kopel will likely include assisting the preparation of amicus briefs and scholarly research on cutting edge issues.

Legal interns at II work directly with two of America’s top constitutional scholars, Dave Kopel and Rob Natelson. Professor Kopel teaches advanced constitutional law at the University of Denver, and is the nation’s premier expert on the Second Amendment. Professor Kopel has written extensively on a wide range of constitutional, historical, and philosophical topics. His widely-read publications were crucial to the Supreme Court’s 2008 recognition of an individual right to keep and bear arms. Professor Natelson served as a law professor 25 years. He taught Constitutional Law, Advanced Constitutional Law, Constitutional History and First Amendment, among other courses. Professor Natelson is particularly known for his studies of the Constitution’s original meaning. Those studies have taken him to leading libraries throughout the United States and England, and he has been credited for several breakthrough discoveries in that area. One of those discoveries apparently served as the basis for Chief Justice Roberts’ treatment of the Necessary and Proper Clause in the “Obamacare” case. Admission as an Independence Institute Legal Intern is competitive. Interns research constitutional questions, help develop programs and publicity, and assist in writing and editing briefs and issue papers.

We are looking for an ambitious young intern seeking experience in developing, creating, and distributing social media content and campaigns. This internship will give you a chance to stretch your creative muscles and use high-end equipment and software to bring your ideas to life.

The Internship involves utilizing social media to distribute the various articles and research produced by Independence Institute staff. Within this task, you will be given ample creative leeway to express the work of our staff in a way that you think will grab the attention of audiences.

Alongside our Creative Labs staff, you will be engaging in numerous brainstorming sessions. We will encourage you to put forth, and accept constructive criticism on, your own content ideas. This experience in the collaborative creative process will be invaluable to you in your future creative endeavors.

You will also be asked to develop a series of informational social media posts on a topic of particular importance to Colorado politics. This project will help focus your creativity to engage and inform an audience on a particular subject. With the help of our Creative Labs team, you will incorporate multiple media formats including video, animation, graphic design, etc.

Overall, this internship provides you the experience of spreading a client’s message and body of work and using your own creativity. This is a skill that is of great value to any that wishes to impact culture in a meaningful way, and it’s a skill that is sorely lacking among the liberty-minded community.

Fundraising is arguably one of the most important aspects of any successful think tank. After all, our policy centers would not be able to do what they do without funding to assist in their success! As a Development intern, college and/or graduate students gain experience in every facet of fundraising. From database management to donor cultivation, this internship will teach the skills necessary for success in a variety of career fields.

Every intern is assigned personally tailored projects that aid in the financing, growing, and disseminating of Independence Institute’s mission. Projects can include grant and appeal writing, donor cultivation, prospect research, marketing strategy, event planning, donor stewardship, data analysis, and much more. Join our team today and earn valuable skills while helping to grow our public policy programs!

The Transportation Center works on improving the cost-effectiveness of transportation programs in Colorado and the Denver metro area. The region spends a large share of its transportation budget on urban transit and the state is proposing to spend an outsized share of its budget on intercity rail, yet neither of these programs have proven successful here or anywhere else in the country.

The center also looks at land-use issues that are related to transportation, such as Denver’s urban-growth boundary and subsidies to so-called transit-oriented developments. Again, neither of these policies have succeeded in significantly reducing driving in this or any other region that has adopted them, but they have succeeded in increase traffic congestion, which in turn wastes fuel and unnecessarily contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

The urban-growth boundary and Boulder’s greenbelt have also made housing in the region less affordable than in any metropolitan area not in a coastal state. These policies were adopted partly to reduce driving, but as noted they haven’t succeeded. Instead, they have created severe housing affordability problems, and the center is looking at how the state and the region are responding (and failing to fix) those problems.

  • Must have strong oral and written communications skills, and be able to work effectively and independently
  • Possess strong written skills, solid interpersonal skills and ability to work within a team
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office required

Independence Institute
727 E. 16th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203