Non-profit

Stand Together

Website:

standtogether.org/

Location:

ARLINGTON, VA

Tax ID:

45-3732750

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(6)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $127,366,674
Expenses: $115,263,716
Assets: $62,620,538

President:

Brian Hooks

Chairman:

Charles Koch

Type:

Right leaning advocacy organization

Stand Together is a right-libertarian funding organization that acts as the umbrella organization for the political network that is largely funded by right-leaning businessman and political donor Charles Koch. The organization was previously called the Seminar Network and is a successor organization to the now-defunct Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. [1] The organization is funded by Charles Koch, in addition to hundreds of additional right-leaning donors who attend a private fundraising retreat for the organization annually and give the organization at least $100,000 per year. [2]

Stand Together provides funding for nonprofits that are under the Stand Together umbrellas, including the Stand Together Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, the Charles Koch Institute, and the Charles Koch Foundation. Stand Together also provides grants to hundreds of additional right-of-center organizations and programs. [3] The influential Democracy Alliance was formed by wealthy left-leaning donors to act as the political left’s response to Stand Together and its predecessors. [4]

Following a 2019 rebranding that gave Stand Together its current name, the organization pivoted away from directly engaging in political activity and has focused more of its efforts around criminal justice and poverty alleviation. This shift in focus has increasingly led the organization to partner with left-of-center organizations to promote libertarian-aligned criminal justice policies and educational programs.

Background

Stand Together currently functions as the umbrella organization for organizations within the Koch political-advocacy network. The primary benefactors of Stand Together and its network are Charles Koch and his late brother David, businessmen who each owned 40% of Koch Industries, an oil and gas company that was founded by their father Fred Koch. After Charles Koch became CEO in 1967, Koch Industries became a large multinational conglomerate and the second-largest privately held company in the United States. David Koch became the Libertarian nominee for Vice President of the United States in 1980, bringing the family into politics. In 1984, the two helped to create Citizens for a Sound Economy, which engaged in right-leaning grassroots organizing and later split into Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and FreedomWorks. Throughout the 1980s, Charles and David Koch provided large amounts of funding for several right-leaning and libertarian organizations including the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and the Institute for Humane Studies, all of which were think tanks that focused on academic research in support of libertarian ideals. [5]

In the early 2000s, Charles and David Koch began expanding their political giving. The organization that became Stand Together formed in 2003 as the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which hosted annual retreats for right-of-center donors. Charles Koch headed up the founding of the annual retreats conducted by Freedom Partners, while David Koch focused on starting Americans for Prosperity. Freedom Partners quickly gained notoriety and drew criticism from the left for hosting an annual retreat featuring high-dollar donors who pledged to give the organization a minimum of at least $100,000 per year. [6]

The annual retreats have featured many high-level guest speakers including right-leaning activists and Republican elected officials such as then-U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, the late political pundit Rush Limbaugh, and talk show host Glenn Beck. The retreats also featured presentations aimed at raising funds for the Koch network. One series of presentations in 2011 featured a debate between then-Sen. DeMint, who argued that Republicans having a U.S. Senate minority consisting of far-right senators was preferable to having a majority that included moderates and centrists. Sen. Cornyn, then chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) argued instead that it was more important to maintain a Senate majority. Donors were reportedly impressed by Sen. DeMint, who later became president of the Heritage Foundation. [7]

Following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity began to grow in influence with the rise of the Tea Party movement. American for Prosperity became a major catalyst for Tea Party, while Freedom Partners sought to distance itself from it. Nonetheless, Freedom Partners raised millions to help influence the 2010 election which brought many Tea Party-aligned Republicans into Congress. [8]

Freedom Partners quickly became a major funder of right-leaning politics, with its 2014 conference alone bringing in $70 million. Records show that Freedom Partners spent $238 million in 2012 and $138 million in 2014. [9]

The president of Freedom Partners was Marc Short, a longtime leader within the Koch network who later worked in the Trump administration as the Director or Legislative Affairs and as former Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff. In 2014, Freedom Partners announced plans to spend $290 million during the election cycle and launched a PAC called the Freedom Partners Action Fund. The move was described as a step towards increased transparency for the network, which previously had not disclosed much information about its donors or spending on political communications. [10]

In 2016, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce was rebranded as the Seminar Network, to place focus on the regular seminars held by the organization for its 700 like-minded donors. Brian Hooks, who also was president and CEO of the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation, became the president and CEO of the Seminar Network, which was rebranded to become Stand Together in 2019. [11]

Formation

In 2019, the Koch-affiliated Seminar Network announced a major change to its affiliated nonprofit organizations and political giving. The Seminar Network rebranded as Stand Together. Freedom Partners closed, and AFP absorbed its remaining operations.. [12]

The new name for the organization, Stand Together, derived from a smaller nonprofit founded by the network three years earlier that is now known as the Stand Together Foundation. [13] The Stand Together Foundation was founded to focus on criminal justice and poverty issues, mostly by funding community projects and small businesses in minority communities. The Stand Together Foundation reports an annual budget of around $30 million and provides grants to roughly 140 small nonprofits annually. In addition to its grantmaking activities, the Foundation trains community nonprofit leaders using Charles Koch’s “Market-Based Management” philosophy. [14]

The rebranding of the organization as Stand Together marked a shift away from politics for the Koch network. While the network still encompasses Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the AFP Foundation, those organizations now comprise all of the overtly political aspects of the network. Charles Koch and the network did not engage in the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections, a move that was often considered alongside Koch’s criticism of former President Donald Trump. [15]

In a letter announcing the rebranded network, president and CEO Brian Hooks stated that the organization would shift its focus to poverty, addiction, criminal justice, and social entrepreneurship, in addition to policymaking. [16] In an interview, Hooks also touted Stand Together’s engagement with left-leaning groups on issues such as criminal justice, noting in particular a partnership with left-leaning activist and former Obama administration climate Czar Van Jones to support the passage of the First Step Act. This came after Jones led a protest outside a Koch network retreat in 2011. [17]

Affiliate Organizations

Stand Together acts as an umbrella funding organization for several nonprofit organizations that are all principally funded by Charles Koch. Such groups include Americans for Prosperity (AFP), and the AFP Foundation, the Charles Koch Institute (CKI), the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF), and the Stand Together Foundation. [18]

The Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) gives well over $100 million annually, with a focus on providing grants for right-leaning and free market-oriented programs at colleges and universities. The Foundation also contributes to right-leaning advocacy organizations and think tanks such as the Cato Institute, The Reason Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute. [19]

The Charles Koch Institute (CKI) was founded in 2011 and primarily provides educational programs and policy research to support the work of the right-leaning think tanks and policy organizations within the Koch network. Programs operated by the Institute include internship and full-time, entry-level fellowship programs that place students and young professionals into work at right-leaning organizations that receive funding from Koch affiliates. [20]

AFP and the AFP Foundation act as the political center of the Stand Together network. AFP has state-level chapters in at least 35 states. These chapters mobilize a grassroots network of millions of activists to engage state and federal lawmakers in support of right-leaning and libertarian positions championed by the network. AFP first came to prominence in opposing major policies of the Obama administration and currently advocates for a host of right-leaning issues, though it occasionally partners with left-leaning groups on issues such as criminal justice and poverty. [21]

The Stand Together Foundation was founded as Stand Together three years prior to the Koch network rebranding as Stand Together. The Foundation focuses on funding charitable projects in minority communities while promoting free-market ideas. [22]

Activity

Much of the work of Stand Together includes spending its large annual budget, which was over $160 million in 2018, on programs that take place within its affiliated organizations. The organization does, however, directly advertise several programs and funding priorities on the news section of its website. Stand Together directly funds programs including a partnership with SkillsUp to provide grants to skilled workers who were negatively impacted by COVID-19,[23] a small criminal justice nonprofit called JusticeText which uses evidence databases to uncover evidence that could exonerate wrongfully incarcerated people,[24] and a partnership with the founder of Khan Academy to illustrate flaws in the U.S. education system that were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic[25]

Stand Together also acts as the mouthpiece for the entire Koch network and distributes letters, videos, and comments directly from Charles Koch and Brian Hooks. The organization’s website hosts a frequently asked questions page where Koch and Hooks appear on video to answer questions about the network, including why the organization was created. The organization also regularly publishes letters to the public and members of the network that outline the network’s current focus. A recent letter from Koch and Hooks warned of the influence of both socialism and nationalism in the United States and stressed the need for the organization and its affiliates to find issues that provide common ground across ideologies and demographics. [26]

People

Charles G. Koch is the founder and chairman of the board of Stand Together. Stand Together and its network of affiliated organizations operate according to Koch’s Market-Based Management philosophy, which he chronicles in Good Profit and The Science of Success. Koch has sat as chairman of the board and CEO of Koch Industries since 1967, during which time the company grew from being worth $21 million to having revenues as high as $100 billion and over 100,000 employees. [27] [28] Koch Industries is currently the second-largest privately held company in the United States. Charles Koch is known, along with his late brother David, for founding and providing funding for dozens of right-leaning and libertarian leaning organizations including the Institute for Humane Studies, the Cato Institute, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and the Bill of Rights Institute, all of which are organizations that continue to regularly receive grants from the Charles Koch Foundation. [29]

Brian Hooks has worked as president and CEO of the Charles Koch Foundation since 2014. He simultaneously works as the president and CEO of Stand Together and the Charles Koch Institute. Prior to joining CKI and the Koch network, he was the executive director and COO of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. [30] Hooks earns compensation of over $1.2 million annually according to public tax records. [31]

References

  1. Goode, Darren and Vogel, Kenneth. “Kochs launch new super PAC.” Politico. June 16, 2014. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/2014-elections-koch-brothers-super-pac-107926 ^
  2. Greve, Joanie and Alfaro, Mariana. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities.” Washington Post. May 20, 2019.  Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2019/05/20/daily-202-the-koch-network-is-reorganizing-under-a-new-name-and-with-new-priorities/5ce1a94fa7a0a435cff8c0d3/ ^
  3. “About Us.” Stand Together. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://standtogether.org/about-us/ ^
  4. Greve, Joanie and Alfaro, Mariana. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities.” Washington Post. May 20, 2019.  Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2019/05/20/daily-202-the-koch-network-is-reorganizing-under-a-new-name-and-with-new-priorities/5ce1a94fa7a0a435cff8c0d3/ ^
  5. Vogel, Kenneth and Aujla, Simmi. “Koch conference under scrutiny.” Politico. January 27, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2011/01/koch-conference-under-scrutiny-048277 ^
  6. Vogel, Kenneth and Aujla, Simmi. “Koch conference under scrutiny.” Politico. January 27, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2011/01/koch-conference-under-scrutiny-048277 ^
  7. Vogel, Kenneth and Aujla, Simmi. “Koch conference under scrutiny.” Politico. January 27, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2011/01/koch-conference-under-scrutiny-048277 ^
  8. Vogel, Kenneth and Aujla, Simmi. “Koch conference under scrutiny.” Politico. January 27, 2011. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2011/01/koch-conference-under-scrutiny-048277 ^
  9. “Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce Spending Summary.” Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprof_contrib.php?id=453732750 ^
  10. Goode, Darren and Vogel, Kenneth. “Kochs launch new super PAC.” Politico. June 16, 2014. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/2014-elections-koch-brothers-super-pac-107926 ^
  11. Greve, Joanie and Alfaro, Mariana. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities.” Washington Post. May 20, 2019.  Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2019/05/20/daily-202-the-koch-network-is-reorganizing-under-a-new-name-and-with-new-priorities/5ce1a94fa7a0a435cff8c0d3/ ^
  12. Greve, Joanie and Alfaro, Mariana. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities.” Washington Post. May 20, 2019.  Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2019/05/20/daily-202-the-koch-network-is-reorganizing-under-a-new-name-and-with-new-priorities/5ce1a94fa7a0a435cff8c0d3/ ^
  13. Greve, Joanie and Alfaro, Mariana. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities.” Washington Post. May 20, 2019.  Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2019/05/20/daily-202-the-koch-network-is-reorganizing-under-a-new-name-and-with-new-priorities/5ce1a94fa7a0a435cff8c0d3/ ^
  14. Ho, Sally. “Koch network touts latest charity work, downplays politics.” Associated Press. June 5, 2019. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/7f74edf0b54f4b41b256d2d24a659ca3 ^
  15. Greve, Joanie and Alfaro, Mariana. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities.” Washington Post. May 20, 2019.  Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2019/05/20/daily-202-the-koch-network-is-reorganizing-under-a-new-name-and-with-new-priorities/5ce1a94fa7a0a435cff8c0d3/ ^
  16. “Koch Network Reorganizes as ‘Stand Together’.” Philanthropy News Digest. May 22, 2019. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/koch-network-reorganizes-as-stand-together ^
  17. Greve, Joanie and Alfaro, Mariana. “The Daily 202: The Koch network is reorganizing under a new name and with new priorities.” Washington Post. May 20, 2019.  Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2019/05/20/daily-202-the-koch-network-is-reorganizing-under-a-new-name-and-with-new-priorities/5ce1a94fa7a0a435cff8c0d3/ ^
  18. “About Us.” Stand Together. Accessed April 9, 2021. https://standtogether.org/about-us/ ^
  19. “IRS Form 990.” Charles Koch Foundation. 2019. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://mk0bahufale3skgkthdo.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/CKF_2019_990.pdf ^
  20. “About Us.” Charles Koch institute. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/about-us/ ^
  21. “About.” Americans for Prosperity. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://americansforprosperity.org/about/ ^
  22. Ho, Sally. “Koch network touts latest charity work, downplays politics.” Associated Press. June 5, 2019. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/7f74edf0b54f4b41b256d2d24a659ca3 ^
  23. “Upskilling Fund Plans to Aid 30,000 displaced workers.” Stand Together. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://standtogether.org/2021/02/18/upskilling-fund-plans-to-aid-30000-displaced-workers/ ^
  24. “A Young Female CEOs Bold Vision to Transform Criminal Justice.” Stand Together. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://standtogether.org/2021/03/03/a-young-female-ceos-bold-vision-to-transform-criminal-justice/ ^
  25. “Brian Hooks and Sal Khan: How the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a roadmap to transform education.” Stand Together. Accessed March 19, 2021. https://standtogether.org/2021/02/17/brian-hooks-and-sal-khan-how-the-covid-19-pandemic-has-provided-a-roadmap-to-transform-education/ ^
  26. “FAQs.” Stand Together. https://standtogether.org/faq-charles-koch-brian-hooks/ ^
  27. “#15 Charles Koch.” Forbes. Accessed March 26, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/profile/charles-koch/?sh=4a06c95d57d7 ^
  28. “Charles Koch 1935-.“ Reference for Business. Accessed March 26, 2021. https://www.referenceforbusiness.com/biography/F-L/Koch-Charles-1935.html ^
  29. “Charles G. Koch.” Charles Koch Institute. Accessed March 11, 2021. https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/about-us/charles-g-koch/ ^
  30. “Brian Hooks.” Linkedin Profile. Accessed March 26, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-hooks/ ^
  31. “IRS Form 990”. Charles Koch Foundation. 2018. Accessed March 26, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/480918408/01_2020_prefixes_47-51%2F480918408_201812_990PF_2020012117047703 ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 2012

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $127,366,674 $115,263,716 $62,620,538 $9,121,702 Y $539,000 $123,621,192 $124,419 $846,098 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $146,752,091 $125,598,893 $48,197,404 $7,562,806 Y $1,197,990 $144,622,126 $6,114 $1,510,704 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $139,344,951 $98,526,193 $50,797,959 $8,377,775 N $1,102,833 $137,972,944 $0 $1,859,693 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $126,378,889 $129,393,468 $17,779,395 $2,941,980 N $1,310,321 $124,946,972 $2,237 $2,245,476 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $35,852,043 $22,309,767 $45,180,158 $6,491,909 N $50,000 $35,800,000 $2,043 $744,634 PDF
    2013 Oct Form 990 $57,496,468 $50,315,876 $25,862,102 $716,129 N $390,770 $57,100,000 $5,828 $978,305 PDF
    2012 Oct Form 990 $255,674,218 $237,708,837 $18,256,338 $290,957 N $936,673 $254,710,029 $30,018 $245,502 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Stand Together

    2300 WILSON BLVD STE 500
    ARLINGTON, VA 22201-5426