Higher Education Grant Giving Principles

Higher Education Grant Giving Principles

Our academic giving principles represent the following ideals in our support of professors, students, and schools.

We celebrate the role of universities. The open exchange of experiences and ideas they enable drives individual and social progress.

We support scholars who tackle the hard challenges. Our funding helps them follow their research wherever it may lead. As they do, they discover new ways to realize social progress—toward a society of mutual benefit where people succeed by helping others improve their lives.

Our giving is meant to have an impact on the world, not produce research that sits on a shelf. Ideas improve through challenge, and we want the research we support to be read, scrutinized, debated, and consulted so it can inform dialogue and lead to solutions to the most pressing issues.

We are proud to support hundreds of schools, thousands of professors, and millions of students as they nurture an open intellectual environment. We are committed to the highest standards of philanthropy to bolster their work and expand opportunities for others to participate.

We’re seeing greater interest from scholars and more proposals than ever before. Their innovative ideas give us optimism for the future, and we’re committed to supporting excellent work.

Here’s what the schools we support can expect from the Charles Koch Foundation:

Giving Standards

Faculty call the shots.

Behind each of our grants is a scholar with a vision. Their freedom to drive their research wherever it may take them is essential to the discovery that we hope results from our support.

  • We respond to every proposal in a timely fashion and are excited to support innovative scholars and students.
  • We structure our gifts to support the vision of a faculty member or principal investigator and ensure her academic independence.
  • We’re flexible and responsive to input from faculty. We’re not constrained by caps or application windows and are always interested in new methodologies and new academic arguments.
  • We streamline our application process to make it easier for faculty to share their ideas with us, allowing them to invest their time and energy into their work, not into getting the resources for it.

 Schools provide the academic environment.

We’re excited to support hundreds of schools ranging from small liberal arts colleges to state research universities to Ivy League schools. Each grant we make follows the school’s standard procedures when it comes to hiring, curriculum, peer review, and other policies.

  • We celebrate a Republic of Science that universities are in a unique position to foster, and we provide resources to schools to expand the experiences they are able to offer.
  • We work with universities to maintain the highest standards of academic freedom and foster an environment of challenge and open inquiry.
  • We embody our guiding principles, which include humility and respect, in every partnership.

Openness brings opportunities.

To help make potential grantees aware of opportunities, we share news of all our major gifts. This knowledge sharing improves collaboration, offering others the possibility to build on the work of the scholars we support.

  • We provide online our template grant agreements for major gifts so potential grantees can see how we operate.
  • We publish the grant agreements for all our major, multiple-year gifts to universities.

Society benefits.

The scholars we support are tackling some of the toughest challenges of our time and preparing students for success in a dynamic future. The goal of our philanthropy is to improve society. As scholars’ discoveries guide the path forward on criminal justice reform, free expression, foreign policy, technology and innovation, economic opportunity, and other pressing challenges, society progresses.

  • We analyze grants based on their potential to solve problems toward a society of mutual benefit, where people succeed by helping others improve their lives. This includes helping students develop the critical thinking skills necessary to tackle society’s future challenges.
  • As challenges change over time we will issue requests for proposals periodically to indicate where we see an opportunity to address timely issues. We are always open to new ideas, whether or not they are responsive to a specific RFP.
  • We evaluate proposals on criteria that include relevance, research rigor, applicant excellence in the field of study, contribution to undergraduate and/or graduate student experience, stakeholder and institutional support, and the potential future growth of the work.

To demonstrate our commitment to these principles and standards, these are some important practices we employ:

  • Detail our application process and explain what we don’t fund when it falls outside our vision to give grantees a better understanding of how we work.
  • Conduct a survey of grantee impressions of working with the Charles Koch Foundation to improve our processes and identify new opportunities.
  • Host regular (virtual or in-person) forums for grantees to collaborate.

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