Pershing Square Foundation: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: Pershing Square prioritizes giving to cancer research.

IP TAKE: Pershing Square does not accept unsolicited grant applications, which makes securing a grant more difficult. However, grantees enjoy “flexible and unbureaucratic” support.

PROFILE: Established in 2006, the Pershing Square Foundation seeks to "support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable impact across the globe." It was originally founded by Bill and Karen Ackman who both announced in 2012 that they would sign the Giving Pledge, which dedicates at least half of their fortune to charity. The foundation invests in health and medicine, arts and urban development, education, economic development and social justice.   

The foundation facilitates disease-related grantmaking through its health and life sciences program, which does not name specific priorities. However, taxes reveal that the foundation's disease grantmaking centers on cancer research. Indeed, PSF's Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance (PSSCRA), established in 2013 by a group of Wall Streeters, is “dedicated to playing a catalytic role in accelerating cures for cancer.” PSSCRA awards early career scientists $200,000 per year, for three years. The prize only supports scientists and researchers working in New York City medical centers and universities.

Apart from PSSCRA, the Pershing Square has been a steady funder of cancer research through grants grants that range from $3,000 to $200,000. These grants support large national cancer institutions and major research centers, such as the Harvard Medical School and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Cancer. Most of these grants, however, are at the low end of the spectrum. While PSF has funded a few established global health NGOs, it priotirizes other programs in it milieu. 

Related: Inside the Pershing Square Foundation: A “Catalytic” Funder on the Fast Track

PSF does not accept unsolicited proposals. Grantseekers should examine the foundation’s Who We Fund page to get a concrete idea of the non-profit and for-profit organizations that have received, or are currently receiving PSF support.

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