In a move that some will view with a cynical eye, but that others might say is kind of badass, the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch have donated $25 million to the United Negro College Fund. The brothers are best known for bankrolling the tea party and their unprecedented largesse to conservative candidates and causes, which their critics lament has enabled them to have an unfairly tip the political scales.
The money, which will come from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation, will be used for scholarships ($18.5 million), general support for HBCUs and the UNCF ($6.5 million) and loan assistance to help families deal with the Parent PLUS loan crisis ($4 million).
"UNCF is proud to announce this new scholarship program that will help motivated and deserving students not just get to and through school, but to become our next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs," said UNCF president and CEO Michael Lomax in a statement. "We are enormously grateful to Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation for their long-standing support of UNCF and for helping to create opportunities for earned success and a better future for our students."
Charles Koch added that he and his brother hope their investment will help students reach their full potential and enable them to pursue their dreams.
HBCUs and African-American families have in recent years found it increasingly more economically challenging to fund their children's college educations. In addition, they have been particularly hard hit by the more stringent credit standards now required to meet to secure a federal Parent PLUS loan, which has forced many students to discontinue or put their educations on hold.
As a result, Lomax is prepared to deal with any criticisms that may come his way for accepting the Koch brothers' donation.
"Criticism is a small price for helping young people get the chance to realize their dream of a college education, and if I've got to bear the brunt of someone else's criticism to ensure that we have the resources to help those students, then I can handle it, and I can take the heat," Lomax told the Associated Press.
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