Charles Koch Gives $25.6 Million to Thurgood Marshall College Fund

The billionaire is supporting scholars researching education, criminal justice, entrepreneurship

Charles Koch
(Image: Koch Industries)

In the November-December issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer Derek Dingle wrote an article describing the philanthropic work of Charles Koch, one of the wealthiest business leaders in the country.

In that piece, Dingle writes about the UNCF Koch Scholars Program, an initiative focused on developing the next generation of business leaders. The program, established in 2014, has already engaged 170 scholars.

But Koch is also partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which supports public historically black colleges (UNCF supports private HBCUs).

Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post article about the exciting work TMCF will be doing with Koch’s backing.

Billionaire Charles Koch, a prominent backer of conservative political causes, is giving $25.6 million to enable scholars at historically black universities to research education, criminal justice, and entrepreneurship in communities plagued by high crime and other social ills.

The donation, made through Koch’s foundation and his family business, will help launch a research center affiliated with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

Named for the first African American justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, the Marshall fund supports dozens of historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs. Among them are Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia in the nation’s capital, and Bowie State and Morgan State in ­Maryland.

“Education transformed my life, and I’ve committed to do all I can to give others that same opportunity,” Koch said in a statement Wednesday evening. The Marshall fund has made that same commitment, he said, “giving students and scholars the chance to discover new ways to overcome barriers holding too many people back. As they succeed, so does our society.”

The new gift, distributed over five years, will enable the Marshall fund to launch what is called the Center for Advancing Opportunity. Based in Washington, the center will support HBCU faculty researching education, criminal justice, and entrepreneurship in “fragile communities”—defined as places where residents face “significant barriers” to opportunity. These communities would typically have high crime, troubled schools, and various other economic and social problems.

The center also will award scholarships to HBCU students, sponsor academic forums, and work with Gallup to survey targeted communities on issues of interest and develop a metric called an “opportunity index.” Gallup’s chairman, Jim Clifton, is also chairman of the Marshall fund’s board.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive of the Marshall fund, traced the genesis of the gift to a television interview he heard two years ago in which Koch was discussing the perils of “over-criminalization” and other barriers to opportunity.

Read more at the Washington Post.