The Seminar Network, a network of nonprofits funded by Charles Koch and like-minded conservatives and libertarians who donate at least $100,000 annually to "help people improve their lives," has announced that going forward it will be known as Stand Together.
In a letter on the Stand Together website, Koch and Brian Hooks, who chaired the Seminar Network and will serve as chair and CEO of Stand Together, write that the new entity will encompass "all of our efforts to improve education, business, communities, and government policy." Under the tagline "Greater your good," Stand Together will focus on five priority areas: empowering people to find fulfilling work; helping neighbors beat poverty and addiction; ensuring an excellent education for every person; building a stronger economy that works for all; and bridging divides and building respect for one another. The organization said it would take a comprehensive approach to those challenges modeled on the Koch network's recent collaboration with funders and nonprofits from across the political spectrum to address criminal justice reform.
"We live in a period of unprecedented progress — economic, social, technological — but not everyone has shared in that progress. While many people have gotten ahead, too many people are falling behind," Koch and Hooks write in their letter. "Our charge is clear: we must stand together to help every person rise." To that end, Stand Together members will focus on boosting the effectiveness of social entrepreneurs by empowering those closest to the problems, engaging millions of people at the grassroots, and working with anyone to unleash the potential in all.
The existing Stand Together organization, which was created three years ago to support community groups working to address issues such as poverty, addiction, recidivism, gang violence, and homelessness, will continue to operate as the Stand Together Foundation. In 2019, the foundation expects to award grants to a hundred and forty community organizations, up from a hundred and seventeen in 2018. According to the Washington Post, Freedom Partners, a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization created for the purposes of promoting "the benefits of free markets and a free society," will be closed, while Americans for Prosperity, which conducts broad-based grassroots outreach, will assume responsibility for all political and policy efforts, including organizations that serve specific constituencies such as the LIBRE Initiative and Concerned Veterans for America.
Koch, a critic of Donald Trump, sat out the 2016 presidential election, and Stand Together plans to do the same in 2020.
"Everybody is frustrated about politics," Hooks told the Post. "The general answer to that frustration that we've heard usually takes two forms. One is, 'I'm done with it. I'm going to walk away.' The other is, 'Well, I'm not sure what to do so I'll just double down on it'....[W]e've rejected both of those. We're not going to continue to do the same thing that we've done, and we're not going to walk away. What we're committed to doing is offering people a different way to stay engaged in policy and in politics but to do it in a way that unites people to actually get things done."