Hearst Foundations: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: The Hearst Foundations have a mission to “build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives.” They seek to achieve this by supporting well-established nonprofit organizations that operate in the realms of culture, education, health and social service.

IP TAKE: This funder is unquestionably dedicated to supporting disease research, intervention, and quality of life for patients, particularly underserved populations, the elderly and children. It's also committed to professional development of the "next generation" of researchers and health care professionals. Cancer-related programs have recently gotten the most attention--cancer is a stated priority--but the foundations do also spread the wealth.

PROFILE: The goal of the Hearst Foundations, founded by William Randolph Hearst, is to “ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives.”

First, to clear up why they are the Hearst Foundations, plural: Technically speaking, William Randolph Hearst established an east coast foundation in 1945 and a west coast foundation in 1948. Their missions were (and remain) the same, as are the granting stipulations. Whether your organization resides east or west of the Mississippi River is the only difference.

Regardless of what side of the Mississippi you're on, these foundations are committed to health philanthropy. The word "healthy" is right there in their mission, and Health is the official name of one of four areas of foundation giving.

There are obviously myriad ways to support a healthy society. The foundations acknowledge this in their own desire to leave a large footprint, stating that they seek to use their funds "to create a broad and enduring impact on the nation’s health."

But the foundations do narrow their scope a bit, articulating five priorities, one of which directly hits upon disease, stated as "Research, particularly related to finding new cures and treatments for prevalent diseases, such as cancer."

For the record, the other four are an emphasis on specialized care for elderly populations, improving access and quality for low-income populations, innovating health care delivery systems, and professional development. All four of these can also potentially relate to your disease-oriented program, and if they do, so much the better.

All told, the Hearst Foundations give approximately 30 percent of their grantmaking budget to health organizations throughout the United States. You must have an annual operating budget of at least $1 million to be eligible. Hearst also says that 80 percent of health grantees have budgets over $10 million--that makes sense when you see the sampling of recent grantees below, all of whom are major health institutions.

As you might expect, given the operating budgets of eligible organizations, the Hearst Foundations look large in terms of scope. They want to fund organizations that serve “large demographic and/or geographic constituencies.”

The Hearst Foundations also want health and disease-related programs that differentiate themselves from their peers—not just in an approach to programming, but also in terms of results. As a comment on their overall giving (not just related to health) they prefer organizations that “enable engagement by young people and create a lasting impression.” Engagement of "young people" might seem a bit less relevant for disease programming, but remember that the Hearst outfits like to fund professional development.

The foundations also place importance on results by expecting “evidence of sustainability” for programs beyond their own support of them. They regularly give both program and—more notably—capital support (and a limited amount of general and endowment support) to 501(c)3s.

Recently granted disease-related programs include:

  • $7,500,000 to New York-Presbyterian Hospital (New York, NY) "toward capital investments at NYP/Weill Cornell for cancer care"
  • $500,000 to the Cancer Research Institute (New York, NY) "to provide funding for outstanding postdoctoral researchers who are specializing in the field of cancer immunotherapy"
  • $500,000 to Children's Hospital Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA) "to support the work of pediatric interventional cardiologist Frank Ing"
  • $250,000 to Autism Speaks (New York, NY) "to support the sequencing of genomes from families affected by autism"
  • $225,000 to The Association of Frontotemporal Degeneration (Radnor, PA) "to support the development of resources to ensure that every person with FTD and their caregivers have access to high quality, effective support services"
  • $200,000 to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle, WA) "to support pilot research programs of early-career investigators"
  • $200,000 to the Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation (New York, NY) "to support the “Transforming Healthcare for Women with Disabilities” initiative"
  • $200,000 to the University of Kansas, Lawrence (Lawrence, KS) "to support the development of media tools designed to increase access and recruitment of underserved populations to cancer clinical trials"
  • $150,000 to City of Hope (Duarte, CA) "to support development of a national model of interdisciplinary care for elderly cancer patients"
  • $150,000 to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (New York, NY) "toward the Design and Development Lab, in support of nonhuman primate research to evaluate promising HIV vaccine platforms"
  • $100,000 to The Foundation for AIDS Research (New York, NY) "to provide expendable fellowships for young scientists in the Mathilde Krim Fellows in Basic Biomedical Research Program"
  • $75,000 to The Rose (Houston, TX) "to support the purchase of a new ultrasound system for breast cancer diagnostic purposes"
  • $75,000 to the American Cancer Society, California Division (Oakland, CA) "to provide patient service programs in the Sacramento, CA, region"
  • $50,000 to the Jennifer Diamond Cancer Foundation (Chatsworth, CA) "to support cancer resource programs"
  • $50,000 to the Arthritis Foundation (New York, NY) "to complete the 'Rheumatoid Arthritis Toolkit' website and launch the associated promotional campaign to ensure that it reaches healthcare providers, specifically in underserved communities."

Remarkably for a funder working on such a large playing field, the Hearst Foundations has an open online application process. They do, however, alert new applicants that 80 percent of their funding goes to previous recipients. The flipside: if you do make the cut for initial funding through the Hearst Foundations, the odds are in your favor that you’ll continue receiving it. But you’ll have to wait at least three years until that happens; the foundations stipulate that as the “waiting period” between grants.

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