Charles Koch Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Charles Koch Foundation is one of several arms of the Koch family's philanthropy. It supports conservative and libertarian policies at higher education institutions each year across the United States. Higher education giving includes campus programs and initiatives that advance the Kochs' free market, libertarian views. Koch's focus on free societies and economic freedom also fuels the funding of several research institutions and scholarships.

IP TAKE: Major backing is available from Koch, but it comes with many conditions. Grantseekers who plan to seek Koch funding, should first make sure they are aligned with the foundation's expectations and mission. It will not support work that benefits progressive concerns.

PROFILE: The Koch family has several philanthropic organizations including the Fred & Mary Koch Foundation, the Koch Cultural Trust, the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Charles C. Koch Foundation. The Charles C. Koch Foundation was established in 1980. The foundation has several staff, a mix of Koch family members and business associates. The foundation seeks to “support the study of free societies... and hope to promote a better understanding of the link between free societies and prosperity.” Koch primarily funds universities and non-profit organizations, with issue areas in Criminal Justice Reform, Toleration and Free Speech, Foreign Policy, Economic Freedom, Technology and Innovation, and K-12 Education.

The Koch Foundation’s conducts grantmaking to benefit higher education, either in the form of research or educational support, across its various programs. It solicits proposals in each of the following programs:

Toleration and Free Speech grants support research into the questions of “How do we model civil discourse and enable a more tolerant society? How do we ensure press freedom as news and debate move online?...along with educational programs and dialogue on toleration and free speech issues on campus and in the arts.”

Foreign Policy grants support “academics and institutions willing to challenge present circumstances and provide alternative visions for U.S. foreign policy.”

Economic Freedom grants support “research on the barriers that prevent people from working, innovating, and creating value for themselves and their communities.”

Technology and Innovation grants “invite scholars and policy experts to submit proposals for work that sheds light on the various effects of technological progress (policy, cultural, or otherwise) and explores the concept of permissionless innovation.”

Corporate Welfare Reform grants invite “scholars, researchers, and policy experts to submit proposals on issues related to corporate welfare, corruption, and cronyism.”

Foundations of Well Being grants supports “research that furthers an understanding of the origins and drivers of individual and societal well-being.”

The initial application process requires no more than an abstract, a CV, and an itemized budget. Grantseekers should review the individual programs’ guidelines carefully, as requirements may vary. In addition to these program areas, the foundation invites General Proposals for projects that “analyze the impact of free societies, particularly how they advance societal well-being.” Keep in mind that these grants only support specific research projects and educational programs, and do not provide funding for overhead or administrative costs.

The Charles Koch Foundation also supports higher education by providing graduate researchers with Dissertation Grants of up to $5,000, Postdoctoral Fellowships at universities or research centers, and Travel Grants to help graduate students attend career-building events like conferences and workshops.

This foundation is not transparent about the size of its grants or its grantees. There is no public grants database on its website, although they do occasionally publish stories about certain grant recipients. Before applying, grantseekers should review Koch’s guiding principles and recent education news to get a better sense of whether their work aligns with the foundation’s priorities.

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