The Charles G. Koch Foundation in recognition of Charles G. Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries, is funding one public high school a year-long course in basic economic principles
, entrepreneurial skills and practical teaching on starting a business. The program
is targeted specifically at predominantly poor students in low-income school districts. Students enrolling for the course would benefit from generous financial incentives including startup capital and scholarships after graduation.
The course taught in a Highland Park classroom by teachers and run by Youth Entrepreneurs, a non-profit group created and funded by the Koch brothers. The course's message to advocate libertarian ideas is clear in that the minimum wage hurts workers and slows economic growth, low taxes and less regulation are beneficial and public assistance harms the poor. In brief, government is the enemy of liberty.
According to the group, the course, being the “most direct example of Koch’s growing imprint on American classrooms regarding private charitable foundations” aims at turning young people into liberty-advancing agents
before they went to college, where they might learn "harmful" liberal ideas. During the program's initial planning stages, the Koch associates wrote that they hoped to develop students' appreciation of liberty by improving free-market education, and that ultimately, they hoped these would change the behavior of students who will apply these principles later on in life.
Youth Entrepreneurs’ mission is to provide children with business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that help them prosper and become contributing members of society. They also pay for all program costs in school districts including typical lesson plans about developing a business idea, the invention game, as well as videos and tests. In those school districts, at least 40 percent of kids are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Since 2012, Youth Entrepreneurship has also launched three major new initiatives: an online version of its course, an affiliate program to help rural schools access the class, and an after-school program, Youth Entrepreneurship Academy, which served more than 500 students in its first year. Thus far, many students reported enjoying the course, according to Taylor Davis, a "liberty-minded" teacher.
Many, including the Huffington Post, believe that the primary goal of the program, rather than helping students become entrepreneurs, is to pass Koch's radical free-market ideology to teenagers, thus, to create a libertarian-minded society that is against supposed governmental ideologies.
In response, the Youth Entrepreneurs’ official Birmingham stated, "We don't try to push or drive ideology.” He explained. “Without the knowledge or affinity for free markets, students cannot understand the role that free markets play in laying the foundations for prosperity and freedom in society.”