News and analysis
February 06, 2012

No. 23: William I. Koch

PRNewsFoto/Palm Beach High School Foundation, Kim Sargent/AP Images

William I. Koch

Amount donated in 2011: $64.6-million

Biggest beneficiary: Oxbridge Academy Foundation

Donor’s background: Mr. Koch founded Oxbow Carbon, a West Palm Beach, Fla., company that mines and markets coal, petroleum, and other commodities. Mr. Koch, 71, pledged $60-million, of which $23-million has been paid, to establish Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches, a private high school in West Palm Beach, Fla. The remainder of the pledge will be paid over the next several years.

Mr. Koch is one of three billionaire philanthropist brothers. His twin brother, David H. Koch, the executive vice president of Koch industries, an energy and commodities corporation in Wichita, Kan., has landed on the Philanthropy 50 list four times since 2006. Their older brother is Charles G. Koch, chairman of Koch Industries, and the founder of two foundations. Charles and David Koch’s wealth was pegged at $21.5-billion each by Forbes magazine, which put William Koch’s wealth at $3.4-billion.

The father of six children, William Koch started Oxbridge because of what he saw as a lack of top-level college-preparatory schools in the Palm Beach area. He also didn’t want to send his children away to boarding school and thought such a school would improve economic development in West Palm Beach. Two of his children are now enrolled in the academy’s ninth-grade class.

In addition, Mr. Koch donated a total of $4.6-million to a variety of nonprofits, including the Autry National Center, a history museum in Los Angeles; BAK Middle School of the Arts Foundation, in West Palm Beach; Columbia University; Kansas Sports Hall of Fame,; Terror Free Tomorrow, a Washington think tank, Three Bays Preservation, an environmental group, in Osterville, Mass.; and other nonprofit organizations.

—Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2011