Who We

The Charles Koch Foundation supports innovative education and the study of the institutions that enable a society of mutual benefit, where people succeed by helping others improve their lives.

Through grants to universities and non-profit organizations, we connect students and scholars with the resources to explore diverse ideas and solutions that meet the challenges of our day.

what to expect

Our Approach to Partnership

We believe that society’s challenges are best addressed by social entrepreneurs — faculty, students, administrators, and nonprofit leaders — who have first-hand knowledge of a problem, a vision for solving it, and a passion for working with others to drive lasting change.

We aim to empower. Behind each of our grants is a partner with a vision. The freedom to drive their idea wherever it may take them is essential to discovery.

We form partnerships based on a shared vision and complementary capabilities, bringing our network, knowledge, research, and more to every relationship.

We publish, and celebrate, all major gifts. This knowledge-sharing improves collaboration and brings the important work of our partners to the attention of other potential funders.

How we support

Our Giving Standards

Our giving standards and principles are based on our core belief that academic independence and openness are a pre-condition for scientific progress. 

Faculty call the shots.

Each proposal we support is developed by 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 liberal arts, community, and hybrid colleges to R1 Universities. 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 and to maximize public benefit, 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 agreement 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.

Our Commitment.

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 forums for grantees to collaborate.

submit a proposal

Applying for Support

The Charles Koch Foundation seeks to empower our partners to spend more time on their project than they do on grant administration.

Initial review

CKF has an open, rolling application process, which means we welcome proposals for research and educational programs throughout the year. Applicants are asked to submit a brief (1-3 page) abstract that explains how their project will advance inquiry on a pressing challenge; a CV or résumé; and a brief itemized budget. Proposals related to the Foundation’s vision and focus areas are selected for further review

assessing proposals

Proposals chosen for consideration undergo a review process focused on the proposed project’s relevance to the appropriate field of inquiry or practice, as well as the applicant’s capacity to complete the project in a timely fashion and at a high level of quality.

The Foundation provides applicants with timely decisions based on four key factors.

  • Vision: Does the project contribute to a society of mutual benefit where people succeed by helping others improve their lives?
  • Quality: Does the project meet the standards of its field? Has the applicant demonstrated potential or past excellence in the corresponding field of study or practice?
  • Impact: Can the applicant articulate how the project has potential to improve the lives of others?
  • Sustainability: If necessary, is the project likely to receive the additional support necessary for the applicant to build on their progress?

ineligible programs

Requests for funding that fall outside of the Foundation’s vision or giving practices are declined at the selection stage. Among other items, the Foundation is not able to support:

  • Percentage-based overhead costs
  • Applied Research and Development
  • Community development
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural exchange programs
  • Economic development
  • Medical treatment
  • Political activity
  • Lobbying activity

Apply for a Grant

We form partnerships based on a shared vision and complementary capabilities, bringing our network, knowledge, research, and more to every relationship.