About The Presidential Precinct



The Presidential Precinct is a Physical and Virtual destination for young leaders to learn how others have built successful civil institutions, to debate the issues surrounding successful nation building, and to collaborate with others facing similar challenges.

By partnering two universities and three Presidential sites, the Precinct provides a physical venue unparalleled in historic breadth, academic strength, and physical beauty. We empower leaders to learn from world history, find expert advice, exchange ideas, access professional development resources, and solve the most pressing challenges in their communities.

Dedicated to Solving the World’s Most Perplexing Problems

The world needs 21st century institutions using history and the power of information technology to train the next generation of leaders – giving them the tools to mute conflicts and to pull their societies, economically and culturally, into a broader developing global society. The Precinct is one of the world’s first institutions that uses next generation digital tools combined with a deep and abiding appreciation for the lessons of history to help inform and train this next generation of leaders. The Precinct is not tied to nor affiliated with any political or ideological agendas; and can present itself to the youth of the world as an open, safe, non-partisan venue for the free exchange of ideas.

Our Consortium

The Presidential Precinct unites six landmark institutions – four of America’s most important historic sites and two of the country’s most outstanding public universities.

The historic sites exemplify Virginia’s role as the cradle of democracy.

  • Monticello – the home of President Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence
  • Highland – the home of President James Monroe, the progenitor of American foreign policy
  • Montpelier – the home of President James Madison, the principal author of the U.S. Constitution
  • Morven – purchased by Jefferson on behalf of William Short, America’s first career diplomat, and serving as a premier example of early American sustainable agriculture.

Each historic site is a storehouse of knowledge about the principal authors of our democracy and the principles of self-governance that they espoused.

To create the Precinct, the historic institutions have joined with:

  • William & Mary – America’s second oldest university is called “the Alma Mater of a Nation” thanks to its deep ties to the founding fathers, including Jefferson and Monroe who studied the intellectual underpinnings of self-governance at this historic campus.
  • The University of Virginia – Founded by Jefferson, with assistance from Madison and Monroe, to further his belief in the essential value of an educated electorate and to serve as a model for all the American public universities that followed.

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We use evidence to design and implement our programs, evaluate our progress, and measure impact.

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Our Network

Opening Doors for Enduring Investments and Connections

Through the Presidential Precinct Network, leaders who attend Precinct programs continue to engage with a powerful network of experts representing government, business, academia, and civil society. With members from more than 100 countries, this global virtual meeting place provides an exclusive and secure online resource that enables members to learn new skills, find expert advice, exchange ideas, access professional development resources, and solve the most pressing challenges in their communities.

The Presidential Precinct Network has created over 5,000 global connections between the public and private sector, civil society and academia. These connections have opened opportunities for seed funding, recruitment and partnerships.

The History of the Presidential Precinct

2The Presidential Precinct is more than a geographical consortium of talent and knowledge. The Precinct also revives a partnership that dates back almost 250 years to the founding of the United States. The Precinct exists today because of the personal relationships that shaped a nation and set the world on a path toward democracy.

Thomas Jefferson attended William & Mary, where he first encountered the radical concept of the Enlightenment. He codified some of those ideals in the Declaration of Independence, for which he claimed authorship but no original ideas. He regarded this work as an “expression of the American mind.” Jefferson built his home, Monticello, within sight of his birthplace on land inherited from his father.


James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were close political collaborators and friends. Recognized in his lifetime as the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison created a structure of government that realized the ideals stated in the Declaration of Independence. He later drafted and led efforts to pass the Bill of Rights, supported by both Jefferson and Monroe. Madison served two terms as the fourth president of the United States.

James Monroe also studied at William & Mary, where he encountered the ideals of American democracy. He fought for these ideals in the American Revolution, and was seen to defend them throughout his political career. Monroe served crucial diplomatic and political roles under Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, and ultimately served as the fifth President of the United States. He argued for inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution and oversaw national growth, while establishing the nature of the new nation’s foreign relationships. With Jefferson’s encouragement, Monroe established his home in Albemarle County at Highland, which is adjacent to Monticello. Jefferson purchased the “Indian Camp” that adjoined Highland’s south border, now known as Morven, for his secretary, William Short, who envisioned the experiential tenant farms as a possible weigh-station for emancipation.

In 1819, the three former presidents, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, joined forces to create a non-sectarian, public university in the formation of the University of Virginia. Throughout their lives these three friends utilized their physical proximity to meet, work together, and shape the future of democratic processes. Out of this arose the power of place – a place that gestated many of the fundamental ideas underlying the new republic.

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“And we do value democracy, just as you’ve demonstrated here through the Presidential Precinct that’s training leaders in emerging democracies.”

-US Secretary of State John Kerry
Inaugural foreign policy address at the University of Virginia, February 20, 2013