Toleration & Free Speech

Toleration & Free Speech

Toleration is a foundational tenet of free and flourishing societies. It provides a basis for the peaceful exchange of ideas and the coexistence of people with differing views.

Grant Description

The Charles Koch Foundation requests proposals for research, programmatic support, or educational activities related to toleration and free speech.


We are particularly interested in research that explores:

  • Foundational ideas related to free speech, toleration, censorship, or academic freedom.
  • Structural aspects of the university that relate to free speech/academic freedom.
  • Cultural trends driving college students’ views on free speech.
  • Psychological drivers of intolerance in society.
  • Case studies of censorship/intolerance in history.
  • Political and cultural institutions that lead to freedom or censorship. In particular, their relationship to key institutions in society, such as a free press and a flourishing of the arts.
  • New questions of toleration and free speech arising with modern technology, including online speech, privacy, and surveillance.
  • The effect of specific policies on toleration, freedom of speech, and/or freedom of association.


We are particularly interested in supporting programming/activities that model good civil discourse and that educate students and/or the public about issues pertaining to free speech or toleration. Program structures that the Foundation has supported in the past include:

  • Public lectures.
  • Debate series.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Reading groups.
  • Unique courses.

However, we are also interested in exploring new models that could be effective methods for exploring the issue of free speech and toleration.

Grant Criteria

  • A one-to-two-page abstract of the project on behalf of your university, college, think tank, or other 501(c)(3) organization. The abstract should provide sufficient detail for reviewers to assess the nature and feasibility of the idea.
  • A CV or résumé.
  • A brief, itemized budget.
  • Final projects should be original and meet the highest standards of their field, and must not have been previously published.


Funding levels are commensurate with the requirements of the research and the potential for the research to advance an understanding of critical issues. Accepted proposals may also receive support to disseminate the research findings.

Review & Notification Process

Proposals will be accepted and evaluated on a rolling basis.

Explore the Issue

A free press and a civil exchange of ideas are key to a tolerant society. We support research and educational programs that support these values.

Learn more

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