Why Was Stand Together Created?

Charles Koch and Brian Hooks smiling

When my father passed away in 1967, I found a letter he had written to my older brother and me when I was only a few months old. In it, he explained he’d left each of us enough money for our education, but that we could use it for any purpose we wanted.

But, he warned, “If you choose to let this money destroy your initiative and independence, it will be a curse to you. … I should regret very much to have you miss the glorious feeling of accomplishment.”

I have been blessed to experience that glorious feeling of accomplishment, which comes when each of us discover our gifts, develop them, and apply them to help others improve their lives. 

That’s what’s enabled me to accomplish more than I ever dreamed possible. And with the right mindset and support, it’s what can enable every person to live a life of success and meaning, however they define it for themselves — no matter their current situation. 

Take my friend Antong Lucky. In the 1990s, Antong founded the Bloods gang in Dallas and eventually went to prison. While there, another inmate pulled him aside one day and said, “If you can lead these men to do wrong, you can lead them to do right.”

That idea transformed Antong’s life. He’s now a leader at Urban Specialists, where he trains other former gang leaders who are working to turn their lives around. They’re helping young people avoid going down the same path they did.

Antong is using his unique gifts to help others. And that’s true for all of us at Stand Together. As partners, we’re trying to bring about a society where everyone succeeds by helping others. I started working to contribute to that vision in 1963, primarily through my educational efforts. Forty years later in 2003, I saw the opportunity to take those efforts to the next level and founded the organization that became Stand Together.

And I saw that — as one of my closest, longtime allies in these efforts, Art Ciocca, put it — “when we help others realize their potential, we grow and realize ours.” That’s what fires me up and gets me out of bed every morning at 84-years-old. I’ve been doing this since I was in my 20s and I’ll keep doing it until I no longer can.

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