Pew Charitable Trusts: Philadelphia Grants

OVERVIEW: Originally established as a foundation in 1948, The Pew Charitable Trusts is now a public charity that operates internationally with its base of operations in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In Philadelphia, Pew continues to award grants with a focus on arts and culture, health, human services, and civic initiatives. Organizations that are interested in applying for grants should contact Pew as described on their website for specific program areas. 

IP TAKE: The Pew Charitable Trusts is now a global public policy oriented NGO, but remains committed to and active in Philadelphia through programs that award grants to Philadelphia-based organizations in health and human services, arts and culture, and civic life.  The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is the primary funding vehicle for Pew’s arts and cultural grants in the Philadelphia region.  Pew also runs fellowship programs for marine scientists and biomedical scholars. All of their work centers on data-driven projects with measurable results.

KEY INFO: The Pew Charitable Trusts is a policy giant with a long-standing commitment to Philadelphia, their hometown. The organization began as seven separate funds founded independently by the progeny of Sun Oil's Joseph N. Pew; they consolidated and became a public charity in 2004. The foundation's early priorities were cancer research, emergency disaster relief, and historically black colleges.

Today, as a global NGO that raises money as well as dispursing it, Pew focuses its attention on public opinion research, arts and culture, and environmental, health, and consumer policy. Ten years ago, Pew changed its status from a philanthropy to a public charity that accepts donations and operates as a global NGO. Local philanthropy continues with grants to arts and culture organizations, as well as health, human services programs, and civic initiatives.

Most arts grants go toward individual artists, cultural organizations, museums, libraries, parks, and historic buildings in Philadelphia. Most of its arts grants are now made through The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. The Pew Fund for Health and Human Services is the primary vehicle through which Pew supports health and social service organizations in Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania counties.

In addition to the standard grantmaking programs in Philadelphia, Pew has promoted several fellowships, including the Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences, the Pew Latin American Fellows Program for Biomedical Sciences, and the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation. However, these fellowships are very competitive, and you must be nominated to qualify.

Philadelphia-based nonprofits are welcome to contact Pew to learn more about potential grant applications. Visit Pew's website for information about each area and how to contact Pew. Pew actually has a whole website page devoted to support for Philadelphia. There's the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Research Initiative for example, and topics of interest have been urban sprawl, tax burdens, and public safety. 

Pew has made headlines for its support of medical device tracking, the protection of marine life in Antarctic waters, and the preservation of boreal forests in the Australian outback. Although much of Pew's publicity is on an international level, the organization has been focused on state policy as well as national health policy here at home.

Pew maintains a Q&A section on the "Program Investments" section of its site that answers a lot of basic questions for grantseekers. The organization mostly restricts its grantmaking to Philadelphia-area projects and recipients and has a specific interest in arts and health and human services. Pew selects fellowship recipients on its own; grantseekers are asked to contact staff directly with regard to funding opportunities. You can keep up with trends in Pew giving on its regularly updated News Room page. Pew has a decent-size staff of specialists in any given field. For answers to general questions, contact the staff at 215-575-9050 or via email at


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