Frontier Institute

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:




Helena, Montana




State Public Policy Group

President and CEO:

Kendall Cotton

Budget (2020):

Total Revenue:  $107,594

Total Expenses: $37,461

Total Assets:      $71,658

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

The Frontier Institute (FI) is a public policy think tank that promotes economic freedom in Montana. Founded in 2020, FI advocates for lower taxes and decreased regulation in Montana. The Frontier Institute conducts policy research and analysis, creates educational content, and builds coalitions that support its guiding principles of economic opportunity, individual rights, responsible land use, and a fair criminal justice system that promotes public safety. 1

The Frontier Institute is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market state-level policy organizations. 2 Members of FI’s board of directors have affiliations with the Republican Party.


The Frontier Institute advocates for a Direct Patient Care (DPC) model for healthcare in Montana and supported legislation signed by Governor Greg Gianforte (R) that promises to expand DPCs. This healthcare model would allow physicians to bypass both government and insurance companies by arranging for patients to pay doctors directly, either through monthly membership fees or for specific services. The Frontier Institute claims that DPCs are the most effective way of lowering the costs of healthcare and, because they would allow for traditional insurance to only handle catastrophic expenses, would also lower insurance premiums. 3

The Frontier Institute advocates for education choice and claims the solution is to let educators choose how and what they teach while allowing parents to choose the best educational option for their children. 4 Fi supports Montana HB 279, which passed on May 12, 2021, and expands tax credits for donations to school scholarships, supporting mostly low- and middle-income families. 5

The Frontier Institute advocates for limited government and claims that local government spending is creating burdensome increases in property taxes in Montana. In partnership with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, FI published The Real Missoula Budget, which shows that fiscally responsible budgets would save taxpayers millions of dollars annually. The Frontier Institute supports limiting new spending and keeping local government growth to no more than population growth plus inflation. 6


The Frontier Institute is funded by donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations and does not disclose its donors. 7


Kendall Cotton is the president and CEO of the Frontier Institute and former policy advisor for Montana’s Insurance Commissioner. 8

Hannah Downey is a guest author at FI and the policy director at the Property and Environment Research Center. 9

Board of Directors

Rick Hill (R) formerly served as a member of Congress representing Montana and was the Republican nominee for Governor of Montana in 2012. 10

Larry Reed is the former president of both the Foundation for Economic Education and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. 11

Daniel Zolnikov is a former Republican member of the Montana State Legislature where he served as chair of the House Energy and Technology committee. 12


  1. “About.” Frontier Institute, 2021. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  2. “The Network: Montana.” State Policy Network, 2021. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  3. Reed, Larry. “How Montana is Revolutionizing Healthcare—With Markets.” Frontier Institute. July 26, 2021. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  4. Cotton, Kendall. “Pandemic Exposed the Flaws of One-Size-Fits-All Education.” Frontier Institute. October 11, 2021. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  5. Cotton, Kendall. “End of Session Wrap Up.” Frontier Institute. May 6, 2021. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  6. Cotton, Kendall. “New Policy Brief: The Real Missoula Budget.” Frontier Institute. September 22, 2021. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  7. “About.” Frontier Institute. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  8. “Kendall Cotton.” Frontier Institute. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  9. “Hannah Downey.” Frontier Institute. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  10. “Rick Hill.” Frontier Institute. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  11. “Larry Reed.” Frontier Institute. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  12. “Daniel Zolnikov.” Frontier Institute. Accessed October 17, 2021.
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 2020

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.