Believing in People in Wichita and Beyond

In an interview with the Wichita Business Journal, Charles Koch, chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, discusses the concepts that have not only shaped and changed his life, but have also transformed the enterprise and his philanthropic efforts throughout the Stand Together community

January 8, 2021

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“In history, when enough people have gone through transformation and become what we call social entrepreneurs, they’ve transformed their society directionally toward what is my North Star … which is a society of equal rights and mutual benefit,” says Charles Koch, in an interview with the Wichita Business Journal. “(A society) where people succeed by assisting one another and everyone has the opportunity to realize their potential.”

Charles published his latest book, Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World, in November with Brian Hooks, the president and CEO of Stand Together. The book explores what is possible when we apply the principles of human progress and empower individuals nearest to challenges to contribute their gifts and knowledge to create better solutions.

Now more than ever, Charles is focused on more fully realizing that vision in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas. In 1991, he and his wife, Liz, founded Youth Entrepreneurs, an organization that provides entrepreneurial and business education to high school students in Wichita and beyond. This vision has also inspired Koch Industries' support of Rise Up for Youth, a mentoring program for students in multiple Wichita high schools, and a partnership with the new Wichita nonprofit, Empower Evergreen, which aims to help largely Hispanic communities with education, business development assistance and family support to grow new opportunities. Additional support extends to the Create Campaign, an organization founded by Wichita-based entrepreneur Christina Long, which has reached more than 400 entrepreneurs seeking to solve equality and opportunity disparities. And in December, Koch Industries announced a partnership with Code.org to help expand access to computer science education to students in Wichita and across Kansas. 

That’s all in addition to Koch Industries’ pro bono initiative, launched in 2018, which has made it possible for in-house attorneys in Kansas and beyond to provide free legal services for people seeking everything from records expungements to restoring driver’s licenses. Similarly, Koch Industries has also partnered with Kansas Legal Services to focus on helping people remove juvenile convictions and arrests from their permanent records.

“If other business people want to contribute, they need to practice these principles,” Charles says. “It will make them more successful, give them more meaning in their lives and then it will spread. As this spreads through the entire U.S. business community, then it will transform this country.”

Read the full article from the Wichita Business Journal, which details how bottom-up solutions have made a significant positive impact in Charles’ business and philanthropic efforts.