TIME 2014 Election

Koch Foundation Gives $25 Million to United Negro College Fund

Michael Lomax
Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund, is interviewed in Washington, Thursday, June 5, 2014. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

The sizeable gift from the lightning rod conservative group is the fifth largest the UNCF has ever received

The conservative Koch family announced a $25 million grant Friday to the United Negro College Fund, one of the largest the group has ever received and a high-profile overture from the lightning rod conservative activists.

“We are enormously grateful to Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation for their long-standing support of UNCF and for helping to create new opportunities for earned success and a better future for our students,” said Dr. Michael Lomax, the President and CEO of UNCF. The gift builds on more than $1.5 million given to UNCF since 1995 by Koch and Georgia-Pacific, which Koch acquired in 2005.

The UNCF provides scholarships and institutional support to black Americans and America’s historically black colleges, which were particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. The Kochs have been vilified by Democrats in recent years for their large-scale support of conservative and libertarian organizations that spend big in elections. The Koch brothers are spending millions of dollars in elections around the country with a particular focus on winning the U.S. Senate for the GOP, prompting Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid to jibe Republicans for being “addicted to Koch.”

“Increasing well-being by helping people improve their lives has long been our focus,” said Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries Charles Koch in a statement. “Our partnership with UNCF will provide promising students with new educational opportunities that will help them reach their full potential.”

From the $25 million gift, $18.5 million will go to provide scholarships to students while $6.5 million will go toward “general support” of historically black colleges.

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