Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into a number of philanthropic efforts including higher education, which has become a top priority for the pair in recent years.
The amount being offered for funding by the brothers is on the rise. An analysis of Internal Revenue Service tax filings performed by the Center for Public Integrity found that in 2013, two private charitable foundations fully funded by Charles Koch gave $19.3 million to 210 colleges across 46 states and the District of Columbia.
That number is significantly higher than the $12.7 million donated by the Koch foundations in 2012 that went to 163 colleges throughout 41 states and the District of Columbia.
A review of private documents, emails, and audio recordings, as well as a number of interviews of over 75 college professors and students, suggest that the spending on higher education is currently being done by the brothers in an attempt to combine politics and government with free-market principles.
Last summer, a staff member of the pair’s institutions explained to a crowd of supporters the brothers’ strategy to spread their views on economic freedom. At the annual Koch meeting, Kevin Gentry told attendees that political success begins at the college level by reaching out to students in lecture halls. Doing so, he said, will prepare these bright minds for political service.
“The [Koch] network is fully integrated, so it’s not just work at the universities with the students, but it’s also building state-based capabilities and election capabilities and integrating this talent pipeline,” he said.
Net assets for the Charles Koch Foundation are a reported $415.2 million as of December 2013.
Most of their funding efforts in higher education are focused on the study of free-market economics. Charles Koch personally invested over $168.3 million into his foundation throughout 2013, with close to $23 million being put directly into colleges and universities, or programs taking place on college campuses.
Other major contributions that year went to free-market oriented think tanks, research groups, and educational organizations.
The foundation also reported to the Internal Revenue Service that year that it had pre-approved college grants for 2014. The largest grant went to The Catholic University of America, who received $860,000 followed by Clemson University ($498,000), Baylor University ($444,000), Florida Southern College ($400,000), Southern Methodist University ($333,000), Florida State University ($310,594) and Ohio State University and its nonprofit foundation ($300,000).
The Fred C. & Mary R. Koch Foundation, with net assets totaling $30.5 million, offers scholarships and funding to colleges and educational organizations, with its largest contribution of 2013 going to Youth Entrepreneurs Kansas, the nonprofit group teaching business and entrepreneurial education inside 41 high schools throughout the state. That group received $544,500.
In addition, dozens of scholarships, with the average amount being $2,000, were awarded to students who were dependents of full-time employees of Koch Industries.