On Tuesday, the Charles Koch Foundation announced that it would be making a significant change: The philanthropic behemoth would begin publishing details about the multiyear contracts that it makes with universities. The contracts, known as “grant agreements,” lay out the “term, scope, and purpose” of the funds the foundation gives to organizations. The effort at transparency was big news, not least because it came on the heels of a controversy over what exactly was in the libertarian organization’s agreement with George Mason University.
“There has been a lot of mischaracterization of our grants in the past,” Brian Hooks, the foundation’s president, told The Wall Street Journal. “The opportunity to be crystal-clear about how our foundation interacts with universities is a good opportunity.” The foundation awarded more than $49 million to more than 250 colleges in 2016, according to the Associated Press. And a new grant agreement that Koch shared with The Atlantic—the first since the announcement of the foundation’s transparency push— shows exactly what goes into those contracts.
The new grant is with Arizona State University, and is being given to the Academy for Justice, a coalition of criminal-justice scholars housed at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; it is a five-year grant for $6.5 million. The academy, which is led by Erik Luna, a professor at the law school, recently produced a four-volume publication that addresses criminal-justice topics such as racial profiling, mass incarceration, and use of force by police, as well as potential reforms. The grant, Luna told me in an interview, will help build on the model they used to create the report—injecting rigorous academic research into real-life policy conversations on criminal-justice reform.