How Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation Funds "Economic Freedom" on Campus

Charles Koch is best-known for doling out sizable checks in support of conservative political candidates, but recent grants to Albany State University in Georgia show that the foundation that bears his name is also interested in winning hearts and minds one at a time.

The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation awarded an $11,000 grant to Dr. Kathaleena Edward Monds, a professor at Albany State’s College of Business, to educate students in a series of lectures and book discussions. Students at the historically black college will study the work of Frederick Douglass, Walter Williams, and Thomas Sowell, and relate them to Koch’s interest in the free-market economy.

Monds, who is married to a Libertarian Party activist and politician, told a local newspaper that the program would expand discussion of “economic freedom” beyond the students and faculty who are generally most engaged in the topic.

"Economic education can no longer be taught in a silo and limited to economics courses (i.e. microeconomics and macroeconomics). Economic freedom in the African-American community should be explored from a holistic approach," she said, adding that she thought "engaging students in reading the works of Frederick Douglass, and modern day economists, would be an excellent way to stimulate intellectual discussions and research around the topic of economic freedom."

The Charles Koch Foundation is also teaming up with Albany State to reach out to the public on libertarian-minded issues. The foundation sponsored a series of lectures at the College of Business featuring speakers like Lawrence Reed, who is president of the Foundation for Economic Education and a frequent voice in editorial pages and cable news segments around the country.

The programs are right in line with the direction of the Charles Koch Foundation, which puts much of its grant-making power into education. The foundation says it gives to nearly 200 separate initiatives at American institutions of higher education. While the specific programs vary, all of them are focused on exploring "the link between free societies and prosperity."

That’s the message Koch is trying to send, and with an endowment near a quarter of a billion dollars as of his last tax filing, the Charles Koch Foundation has plenty of resources for those who want to deliver it.