Charles Koch teams with black colleges on education and criminal justice research

Billionaire Charles Koch, left, with Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. (Thurgood Marshall College Fund) 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.” Koch, 81, of Wichita, is perhaps best known for working with his brother David Koch to promote conservative politicians and causes aligned with his free-market views. But the Kansas businessman also is a major academic philanthropist, which has generated controversy on some campuses. Last year, the Charles Koch Foundation pledged $10 million to George Mason University in Northern Virginia as part of a $30 million package of gifts that led GMU to rename its law school for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The foundation also...

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