Introducing Friends of the Institute

As a tribute to Senator Kennedy's 47-year career, gifts of $47 and up recognize you as a Friend of the Institute.

About the Institute

The Mission

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities.

The Vision

“To preserve our vibrant democracy for future generations, I believe it is critical to have a place where citizens can go to learn first-hand about the Senate’s important role in our system of government.” – Senator Edward M. Kennedy

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization in Boston envisioned by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Through a range of exhibits, interactive educational offerings, and topical programs, the Institute engages students and visitors in a conversation about the essential role each person plays in our democracy and in our society.

  • Education. Through innovative and nationally recognized educational programs, the Institute provides a high-tech and hands-on learning experience that teaches the next generation how our government works and the skills of listening, compromise, and healthy debate that are needed to productively participate in our communities.
  • Engagement. The Institute’s program series brings together diverse leaders for engaging conversations in Boston and Washington, D.C. Through convening bipartisan discussions with a variety of perspectives, the Institute’s programs address critical issues facing our communities, our nation, and our world.
  • Experience. By utilizing its unique, full-scale replica of the United States Senate Chamber, the Kennedy Institute is able to engage visitors in an interactive way to experience the role of the Senate in our democracy. That hands-on experience not only serves as a touchstone for a deeper understanding of the workings of our government, but it also encourages civil discourse and reasoned debate. With a handheld tablet and skilled facilitators serving as guides, visitors explore exhibits and daily interactive programs that weave together the history and current debates of the U.S. Senate, Senator Kennedy’s legacy of service, and a call for visitors to engage in their own communities.

The Strategy

Throughout 2018, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute engaged in a planning process. Guided by the Board of Directors and with the help of Cambridge Concord Associates, the planning approach was intentionally participatory, with over 100 internal and external stakeholders providing input. The Board held multiple robust and productive discussions about the future of the Institute and high-level strategies for achieving that ambition. All levels of staff were engaged, playing a key role in assessing the current organization and discussing their vision for the future. They also were involved in the development of priorities and how the Institute might go about accomplishing them.

The mission drives the strategy and the principles are the essential underpinning of the strategy and are embedded in all of the strategic priorities and related approaches. The principles build on the strong foundation laid by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, articulating how the Institute will meet today’s challenges. The strategic priorities describe the primary areas of action.

More About Our Principles

  • Intentionality for impact. We work in teams across the Institute to engage in effective planning and prioritization of the activities that will deliver the most meaningful and lasting impacts. We put this principle into practice by: gaining an in-depth understanding of participants’ experiences to identify how to maximize impact; setting goals and intended outcomes when planning programs and events; bundling, layering, sequencing, and attaching multifaceted components to a project or idea in order to deepen or broaden reach; and collaborating across departments to enhance and amplify efforts.
  • Diversity, equity & inclusion. We are committed to bringing a range of viewpoints into all discussions with and among audience members, staff, partners, stakeholders, and funders; to giving fair opportunity for making each voice heard and communicating back regularly. We ensure full opportunity for those wanting to access programs and broaden the audience who engages with our products and programs. We act on this principle by: developing exhibits to cover issues of interest to diverse populations and address issues relating to equity; partnering with local and regional organizations with complementary missions and access to diverse populations; expanding the framework for outreach and marketing to attract and include diverse audiences; recruiting teams that reflect the full diversity of the Institute’s visitors; and fostering inclusivity in the workplace, through team building, cross-departmental collaboration, and transparent decision-making processes.
  • Innovation & boldness. We find creative and inspired routes to bring new programs to life and reinvigorate existing programs to elevate their profile in the building, in the community, and across the nation. We embrace innovation and boldness by: piloting new approaches to student engagement that transfer lessons learned beyond the walls of the Institute; piloting national-level approaches by hosting events on college campuses and at civic centers throughout the country; and expanding the Institute’s technological infrastructure to be robust and adaptive; as well as other initiatives.

The Place

The Institute’s facility is a 68,000 square foot building located on Columbia Point on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston. It was designed by architect Rafael Viñoly. The centerpiece of the Institute is a full-scale replica of the United States Senate Chamber where daytime and evening programs take place.