Friday is a day when people dump news that they don’t want widely publicized, so it comes as no surprise that the United Negro College Fund chose today to announce that the organization has received a $25 million dollar gift from the conservative Koch brothers.
The Associated Press reports that the Charles Koch Foundation, an organization headed by one of the ultra conservative Koch Brothers, gave the UNCF the multi-million dollar grant.
The grant designates $18.5 million dollars to go toward 3,000 merit based scholarships for African-American students and $6.5 million to go toward African-American colleges. The money certainly comes at the right time, considering how many HBCUs are struggling thanks in part to the Obama administration’s changes to PLUS loan guidelines.
Michael Lomax, CEO of the UNCF, maintains that the organization has always reached out to donors regardless of ideological background. Given the divisive nature of today’s politics, however, Lomax says he knows he’ll take heat for the decision to accept money from the Koch brothers. He’s OK with that considering he turns down 100,000 needy students annually. From his point of view, the need is too great for him to turn down millions of dollars that could go toward educating African-American students.
“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 AP.
Lomax says he met Charles Koch for lunch and found that they both agreed on the importance of education.
“We talked about students. We talked about the kinds of support they need. We talked about the shared belief that there are a lot of talented young people there whose lives will be transformed if they get a chance to complete a college degree,” Lomax said.