The United Negro College Fund is facing mild controversy over a monetary gift from a set of conservative brothers, but it’s not what you think.
Charles and David Koch, better known as the Koch brothers, have gifted UNCF with $25 million for a platform that will be labeled the “UNCF/Koch Scholars Program.”
Hundreds of students will benefit from the gift and will receive the opportunity to go to college; a chance that is increasingly becoming unique instead of standard.
The Koch brothers said in a statement that they “have tremendous respect for UNCF and we are hopeful this investment will further its effectiveness in helping students pursue their dreams.”
I would certainly hope the same, but there is a “but.”
It’s the Koch brothers. While giving money toward the cause of educating more black students is great, some will view it through a political prism, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
A portion of the wealth attained by the Koch brothers is used to shape American politics. In 2012, the brothers funneled more than $400 million toward candidates and political causes that supported their agenda that included repealing Obamacare, voter I.D. laws, and etc…
When it comes to education, they seem to be walking the same path.
According to a report via The Center for Public Integrity, in 2012 Charles and David Koch passed out almost $13 million to over 160 schools of higher learning. That’s pretty major.
What else is significant about that and the UNCF donation? Students who become a part of the UNCF/Koch program will have to attend a UNCF HBCU member institution or “one of the 250 colleges and universities where the Charles Koch Foundation has an existing program.”
For example, one program taught at Harvard University looks to “reinvigorate the teaching of America’s founding principles and history.” Is that the same teaching that Texas attempted with they decided to rename the slave trade as “Atlantic triangular trade?”
Anyway, this seems to be a double-edged sword. The Koch brothers get to reinforce the narrative of conservative philanthropy and more black kids will get to go to college. Is this a way for the Koch brothers to help reshape black political thought over the next ten to twenty years?
Not too long ago, the argument over the merit of an HBCU vs. that of a PWI (predominantly white institution) reemerged asking if receiving an education from an HBCU should be placed on the same platform or level of a PWI.
Will students who take classes, or enroll in programs, funded by the Koch brothers develop that same complex?
The Koch brothers did a great thing by helping UNCF with such a generous gift, but I don’t believe they are big checker players. Chess seems to be their game of choice.
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