UPenn professor calls foul on Koch brothers funding of black students’ scholarships

David, left, and Charles Koch, known as the "Koch brothers." Credit: Reuters/Koch Industries
David and Charles Koch, known as the “Koch brothers.” Credit: Reuters/Koch Industries

The United Negro College Fund, founded in 1944 to help African Americans pay for higher education, announced Friday that they have accepted a $25 million donation that will go toward scholarships for black students.

But a University of Pennsylvania professor said that the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) should not have accepted the gift, because it came from the Charles Koch Foundation. Charles Koch and brother David Koch are the conservative billionaire businessmen Koch brothers, known for financial support of conservative political causes.

“I believe that they should not have accepted it, that they should have tried to go elsewhere,” said UPenn Graduate School of Education Prof. Marybeth Gasman, author of “Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund.”

“The Koch brothers have underwritten and supported many, many practices and policies that disenfranchised minorities, low-income people and African Americans,” Gasman said.

For example, the Koch brothers donated to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that has supported voter identification laws across the nation and other conservative causes.

Gasman also cited their donations to politicians around the country who seek to cut programs like Pell grants, SNAP, WIC, Head Start, and other various welfare benefits.

“Their particular politics hurt African Americans. Their particular free market ideas hurt African Americans,” Gasman said of the Koch brothers.

Gasman said she herself grew up in Michigan depending on these types of programs.

“I went to Head Start, my family received food stamps because my parents made very little money … I got student loans. If it weren’t for those programs, I never would have gone to college,” Gasman said.

The Charles Koch Foundation and the UNCF did not respond to requests for comment on Gasman’s criticism.

But the UNCF announcement on Friday said the new “Koch Scholars” program would offer funds to “exemplary students with demonstrated financial need and an interest in the study of how entrepreneurship, economics and innovation contribute to well-being for individuals, communities, and society.”

Out of $25 million, $18.5 million will go to individual scholarships, while $6.5 million will go to historically black colleges and universities and UNCF.

A five-person panel with two UNCF representatives, two Koch representatives and a higher education faculty member will oversee dispensing the funds — which Gasman said is a particularly troubling aspect of this donation.

“The reason why I am worried is it is very hard to navigate the very murky waters of philanthropic relations,” Gasman said. “Most money is tainted in some way. In this day and age, we do need to decide if we are able to stomach where the money comes from.”

Ultimately, Gasman said, the Koch brothers’ support for the UNCF should galvanize those who disagree with their politics to donate to historically black colleges and universities and the UNCF.

“If people have an issue with this, then they should give to black colleges or the UNCF,” Gasman said. “We live in a free country. If the UNCF wants to take that money, they can. If a student wants to, they can.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…