UNCF Announces New Koch Scholars Program
$25 Million Grant Will Promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economics to Create Better Futures for Aspiring African American Students and Strengthen Role of HBCUs
June 6, 2014
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the nation’s premier scholarship organization, announced today that it has received a $25 million grant from Koch Industries, Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation. The partnership will provide nearly 3,000 meritbased awards to African American undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctorate students seeking scholarship assistance. It will also strengthen the 37 UNCF-member Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by helping them offset funding shortfalls as a result of recent changes to the Parent PLUS loan program.
Key elements of the donation include:
- $18.5 million is directed to the UNCF/Koch Scholars Program and its administration. Funds will be used to provide scholarships for 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. Funds will also be used to provide an annual summit, mentorship opportunities, and school programs; and
- $6.5 million is provided for general support to HBCUs and UNCF, with $4 million set aside for the 37 UNCF-member HBCUs and their students to provide financial relief related to the Parent PLUS loan crisis.
“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. We are enormously grateful to Koch Industries and the Charles Koch Foundation for their long-standing support of UNCF and for helping to create new opportunities for earned success and a better future for our students,” said Dr. Michael Lomax, the President and CEO of UNCF.
“For the last 70 years, UNCF has raised over $4 billion and has helped more than 430,000 students earn a college degree. This year alone, UNCF awarded over $100 million in scholarships to more than 12,000 students at 900 schools across the country. Yet, UNCF must deny 9 out of every 10 applications due to lack of financial resources.” Dr. Lomax added, “I’m hopeful that this new commitment from Koch and the Charles Koch Foundation will spur others to come forward and invest in our students so that they can create a better future for themselves and their communities.”
Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, said, “Increasing well-being by helping people improve their lives has long been our focus. Our partnership with UNCF will provide promising students with new educational opportunities that will help them reach their full potential. We have tremendous respect for UNCF, and we are hopeful this investment will further its effectiveness in helping students pursue their dreams.”
The overarching goal of the UNCF/Koch Scholars Program is aimed at broadening educational opportunities so that aspiring African American students can better understand how entrepreneurship, economics, and innovation contribute to well-being for individuals, communities, and society. A key component of the program is based on research from UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, which found that an annual $5,000 scholarship dramatically increases UNCF’s recipients’ rate of retention and likelihood of completion. Those who graduate with a college degree are expected to earn $1 million more than their peers with a high school diploma over a lifetime. And 79 percent of college-educated African Americans actively participate in the labor force, 3 percentage points higher than Caucasians. Furthermore, multiple studies show that those who earn at least a bachelor’s degree have higher rates of employment, have greater lifetime earnings, are more civically-engaged, and are more likely to establish a college-going tradition in their families. The new program will dedicate $1 million to supporting research to help understand the drivers of success for students in college and beyond.
Noting that HBCUs award 20 percent of all bachelor’s degrees for African Americans, Dr. Lomax added, “For more than 150 years, HBCUs have played a significant role in providing access to postsecondary education for millions of students, many of whom currently come from low-income families and are first generation college students. This important grant demonstrates the vital role these institutions will continue to play in educating our students.”
Over the past 14 years at UNCF-member HBCUs, applications have increased by 78 percent and admissions have increased by 64 percent. Unfortunately, enrollment rates have remained stagnant. Despite the heightened desire and motivation, students are unable to attend and complete college, primarily due to a lack of scholarship funding. This partnership helps to correct the HBCU enrollment trend, providing HBCUs with financial aid to fund scholarships.
Georgia-Pacific, a Koch company since 2005, has had a long-time relationship with UNCF that dates back more than four decades. More recently, both Georgia-Pacific and Koch have provided support to UNCF in the form of scholarships and program funding. Through a wide-range of scholarship and academic initiatives, the Charles Koch Foundation currently supports 340 programs at more than 250 colleges and universities across the country, including HBCUs such as Albany State University, Fayetteville State University, and others.
The scholarship program will begin in the fall 2014 semester and continue for up to seven years. Recipients will be selected based on their academic achievements, as well as their interest in the program’s fields of study. In the spirit of knowledge sharing and learning as part of the scholarship program, UNCF and Koch will also jointly sponsor an annual conference for scholarship recipients.
Interested students can learn more and apply at www.uncf.org/kochscholars.