Higher education grants comprise the most significant portion of education philanthropy in the United States. Support goes to a wide range of needs on campus. And while alumni donors play the biggest role in supporting colleges and universities, many institutional grantmakers also give in this space.
This guide looks at which national foundations give to higher education overall; however, IP has also three more specialized higher ed guides that grantseekers may consult:
In addition, Inside Philanthropy tracks and analyzes major individual gifts to colleges and universities in our higher ed news vertical, which features articles about recent donations. And we provide background on individual giving to schools in our Campus Cash guide. We look at who is giving, who's getting, what the gifts for, and how donors are cultivated. Check it out here.
All the profiles of funders in this guide are updated regularly. Only paid subscribers can access this resource. (Subscribe here.)
The 3M Foundation funds large universities, community colleges, and the foundations of academic institutions.
This foundation has an open application process and its philanthropy has historically included modest support for institutions of higher education in the areas where it has a corporate presence. However, its current education giving priorities are less clear.
If you’re working in the field of chemistry from high school through the postdoctoral level and you're willing to do a little digging, ACS almost certainly has something to offer you.
American Express supports colleges and academic institutions across the country, but it prioritizes giving in six U.S. locations.
Institutions of higher education can receive grants for outreach programs aimed at elementary and secondary students. Grants are smaller in size compared with those awarded by other STEM funders.
Amgen, one of the world's top biotech companies, supports its scholar programs in select universities.
Ametek maintains a broad approach to its higher education grantmaking.
The Andersen Foundation funds higher education institutions across the United States.
The Leonore Annenberg Scholarship, Fellowship, and School Funds offer a small number of college scholarships to exceptional high school juniors, as well as fellowships for visual and performance artists as they transition out of the university and into the professional world.
The Argosy Foundation supports a broad range of education efforts across the United States, which include projects related to innovative learning programs, capacity building, staff development, and infrastructure.
Arnhold higher ed giving leans toward New York. It has supported the performing arts, medical research, and the humanities. Universities in other regions are not out of the running, but the foundation does not have much of a web presence or a clear avenue for seeking funding.
This funder does not have a program specific to higher ed, but postsecondary researchers engaging in “transformative” work can find support in many of Arnold’s program areas.
Promising music students at select universities and colleges are eligible to receive ASCAP scholarships for their work.
The Baird Foundation supports higher education institutions across the country.
Provides funding through Bank of America's Workforce Development and Education program, but is only available in a specific list of markets.
Promotes research and scholarship in chemistry and the life sciences through programs aimed at undergraduate college students, doctoral candidates, and promising early-career faculty.
Belfer has given big to a few select recipients, and usually for specific target areas like health and cybersecurity. The foundation has no website or clear application process.
Bloomberg has an education program, and also provides funding for work in its other programs: public health, the environment, government innovation, and arts & culture.
BMI does not offer many institutional grants; however, students of music, especially composers and lyricists, can earn scholarships for their work in a range of musical genres.
BNSF funds both colleges and universities, and considers supporting exceptional vocational and non-college schools on occasion.
Boeing's higher ed funding has a big STEM focus. It offers student scholarships as well as university grants for K-12-related work including research, curriculum development, and teacher professional development.
Unlike its New-York-centric K-12 philanthropy, Booth Ferris's higher ed giving is national in scope and focuses largely on "capacity building" activities.
Higher ed funding from the low-profile foundation of this retired venture capitalist goes mainly (but not exclusively) to California-based universities, and mostly for stem cell and other medical research. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted.
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is a conservative juggernaut providing research grants and graduate-level Bradley Fellowships, both of which are designed to support like-minded academics.
Higher ed organizations based outside of Chicago generally will not receive Brinson support. The main exception is its Scientific Research program, which is national in scope and funds astrophysics, cosmology, biology, geophysics, and medical research.
The Broad Foundation does not have a higher ed grantmaking program, but it does support higher ed grant seekers working in science, medical research, and K-12 education. For the most part, unsolicited proposals are not accepted.
Broadcom supports STEM education and research at top universities across the United States and internationally. It also funds graduate student research in engineering, sponsoring an annual contest.
The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation prioritizes Nebraskan high school students.
This funder's higher ed support focuses mostly on backing individual science researchers through competitive awards. Many (but by no means all) awards go to early-career researchers, and awards are extremely competitive.
The Capital Groups Companies Charitable Foundation invests in colleges, universities, and post-secondary organizations across the United States.
The Capital One Foundation’s higher education grants tend to focus on ensuring that college students succeed and workforce development initiatives.
The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation awards grants to support graduate theological education as well as visual arts programs as they relate to Asian art.
As one of the largest foundations in the United States, Carnegie's grants provide plenty of support for education nonprofits, colleges, and K-12 schools.
The Caterpillar Foundation supports organizations alleviating the root causes of poverty.
The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial invests in higher education grantmaking across the United States, predominately in the northeastern region.
Chevron gives directly, not through a foundation. Much of its education giving is directed at the K-12 set, but it has also formed partnerships with a number of postsecondary institutions and professional associations for minorities. STEM is a major priority.
Citi's higher ed funding focuses on teaching students and their families how to save for college, getting students into college, and helping them stay in college to complete their degrees.
True, its awards are modest, but if you’re looking to gain recognition for your teaching accomplishments, or you're a professor or grad student developing a community-centered project, CMS is a funder worth contacting.
The Coca-Cola Foundation's three main priorities are women's empowerment, environmental conservation, and healthy living. In addition to directly funding universities around the world, Coca-Cola also awards millions in scholarships each year.
Funds programs to expand higher education opportunities across the Golden State through greater access to financial aid for low-income and first-generation students who might not otherwise see college as an option.
The Cooke Foundation works with institutions of higher education and national organizations to increase college access for talented young men and women with financial need.
Coulter tends to award higher education grants to large-scale partners with strong departments in biomedical engineering. It also gives to a select group of colleges, universities, and professional societies.
Dalio funds higher ed initiatives including medical and environmental research, scholarships, and arts programs, but the foundation has no website or clear grantmaking guidelines.
This funder gives grants to private liberal arts and science colleges and affiliated organizations, with special funding earmarked for traditionally black, Native American, and Appalachian colleges. Grants are awarded for undergraduate programs only.
The Delmas Foundation provides modest grants to support research libraries, scholarship in the humanities, and the study of Venice, and accepts applications year-round.
Deloitte Foundation's philanthropy is business oriented. It has given many grants related to the study of tax and finance. It also has a generous employee matching funds program and supports organizations and events as well as doctoral scholarships and fellowships.
Delta and its foundation support higher ed through scholarships that are often tied to diversity initiatives and/or the aviation industry. It has also given big to Georgia-based universities for aviation-related centers and research.
The Geraldine Dodge Foundation supports a variety of New Jersey-based organizations in arts, K-12 education, environment and informed communities.
The Dominion Foundation supports postsecondary ed from multiple angles, but only in regions where it has a corporate presence. In addition to its higher education program, it offers a handful of higher ed grants through its Environmental Stewardship program.
Among Dow's many lines of support for higher ed (most of which have a STEM focus) are university partnerships that fund a wide range of initiatives including research centers, scholarships, and facilities construction. Dow also sponsors science competitions and has a program that matches employee contributions.
The Dreyfus Foundation gives funding to chemists from undergrads through emeritus scholars. Awards support chemists' work in teaching, research and mentorships.
Druckenmiller has given big to institutions with connections to the family, and to support students striving to enroll and succeed in college. But the foundation tends to make a small number of targeted, large-scale gifts, and has no website or clear application process.
Funding from Doris Duke is available through the foundation's Arts, Environment, Medical Research, and Child Well-Being programs, as well as through its African Health Initiative.
Eligibility from the duPont Foundation is limited to organizations (including 42 liberal arts colleges) that received funding from Jessie Ball duPont during her lifetime.
The Entergy Foundation invests in higher education organizations and schools in areas where the company maintains a business presence.
ExxonMobil's focus areas include STEM education (especially for women and girls), health, biodiversity and conservation, women’s economic empowerment, and antimalarial efforts. The foundation gives globally, mostly in areas where it has a local presence, but unsolicited requests are rarely approved.
Post-secondary grants from Fairchild have gone to a wide variety of initiatives, including general operating support, fundraising campaigns and special projects, but the foundation doesn't have a website or clear funding priorities.
The FCA Foundation’s higher education giving supports schools in the communities where Fiat Chrysler has a significant presence, as well as regional and national programs. The foundation is particularly mindful of supporting underserved students.
FirstEnergy supports higher ed STEM initiatives as well as related professional organizations. Grant recipients must serve a community that receives FirstEnergy services.
Since its recent restructuring, Ford will funnel its higher ed funding through the Pathways for Youth Success sub-area of its Youth Opportunity and Learning program.
College readiness and retention make up the Gates Foundation's higher education focus. There are small grants available for first-time grantees, as well as mega-grants for national, game-changing programs.
The GE Foundation's higher education grantmaking supports academic research, conferences, program support, scholarships and a matching gifts program.
This funder is committed to communities where it has corporate locations, but that's a huge swath of the country; unique in that all giving is for general operating support.
Not to be confused with the Getty Foundation established by J. Paul Getty (see below), this funder supports symphonies and opera companies as well as higher ed performing arts. But they have no website or clear grantmaking guidelines.
Getty awards grants for the visual arts worldwide (L.A.-based organizations appear to receive some preference). It supports specific projects and institutions as well as individual fellowships and internships. Many grants are invitation-only, but there is also a running list of competitive grants.
Goldman gives to higher ed through its 10,000 Small Businesses and 10,000 Women programs (both designed to provide access and training to budding entrepreneurs). Goldman also provides need-based higher ed scholarship grants.
W.W. Grainger, Inc. and the Grainger Foundation have given big to universities with connections to the family, and offer funding at a lower level through community college scholarships and employee-endorsed community grants.
Hearst's deep pockets and open application process bode well for established college and university grant seekers, especially through its Education and Health programs. Hearst also has two signature programs that include college scholarships—one for undergraduate journalism majors, and another for high school student government leaders.
Heckscher primarily serves New York City but offers support throughout the nation. Its College Access Program includes SAT prep, peer advising, helping with financial aid, and college liaison support.
Helios supports college access and postsecondary success for students in Arizona and Florida.
Higher ed fundraisers should focus on Hewlett’s Education, Environment, and Global Development and Population programs. Unsolicited LOIs are accepted on a program-by-program basis.
The multi-billion-dollar foundation has a global footprint, and even without a targeted higher ed program, its wide-ranging interests provide many opportunities for universities to earn high-level funding. Unfortunately, unsolicited applications are off the table.
The Armin and Esther Hirsch Foundation supports colleges and universities across the country.
HHMI's grantmaking activities extend to more than medical research. The foundation's priorities include making STEM disciplines more attractive and improving the quality of undergraduate STEM education.
The William H. Hurt Foundation seeks higher education institutions and organizations located in areas in which foundation staff and board members reside.
Teachers and students receive support from Intel through research grants (individual and collaborative), fellowships, scholarships, and initiatives that integrate technology into the classroom.
Institutional awards are not JEN's focus, but jazz students and performers (and the occasional researcher) may receive scholarship awards to support their studies.
The RWFJ Foundation has long given grants supporting healthcare, especially nursing programs. But it has also supported other university programs and research initiatives.
JPMorgan Chase's commitment to higher ed almost always has a market-oriented bent, whether through industry-related research, skills training programs, or university centers focusing on economics or small businesses.
The Kate Spade and Company Foundation largely concentrates higher education grantmaking in the Northeastern United States.
Kauffman’s higher ed funding supports universities and academics around the country with institutional grants and individual awards, especially for research related to the field of entrepreneurship. Most of its other funding is focused on Kansas City.
The Keck Foundation wants to expand research opportunities for undergraduate STEM students in a number of specific regions in the U.S. It also funds scientific, engineering and medical research, as well as organizations with a national focus on undergraduate education.
The J. C. Kellogg Foundation prefers to take a broad approach to funding higher education. In doing so, the foundation supports a variety of higher education initiatives or priorities across the United States.
Kern gives grants to individuals and institutions fostering an “entrepreneurial mindset” among undergraduate engineering students. Eligibility is limited to organizations and individuals affiliated with the foundation's KEEN network.
The charitable arm of the accounting firm, KPMG Foundation's business-oriented higher ed support focuses on business education through funding for select organizations, scholarships, diversity initiatives, academic conferences, and a matching gifts program.
Higher ed funding from Knight is available in the arts, community initiatives, journalism, and innovation in media. Grants are open to a wide range of applicants, but some have geographic restrictions.
One of several arms of the Koch family's philanthropy, this funder's higher education giving provides support for campus programs and initiatives that share the Kochs' free market, libertarian views.
Kohlberg prefers a broad approach toward its higher education investments, which suggests it may entertain a variety of projects.
Kresge's Education Program focuses on helping first-generation, low-income students enroll in college and complete their degrees from two- and four-year institutions. The foundation also provides grants to Title III and Title V schools.
Kress offers higher education grants in art conservation, European art through the 1800s, and technology-related art history initiatives.
While the Lilly Endowment is well known for its support of campus business programs and nonprofits focused on increasing higher ed access for minorities, its Christianity-oriented religion grantmaking focus is also a major source of funding for higher ed organizations.
Theology, art history and cultural studies (especially American and Asian art and culture) are major Luce Foundation priorities. Luce also has a higher education program, along with funding for female STEM students and fellowships for students to work and study in Asia.
Lumina gives higher ed grants through its Goal 2025 program, which seeks to "increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025."
MacArthur does not operate a higher-ed-specific program but does award grants to colleges and universities through its major programs. The foundation recently restructured, shutting down and phasing out many programs.
The Mellon Foundation is an iconic funder of higher education in the arts and humanities through fellowships, research grants, and art history and conservation projects. Other programs support international higher education and increasing ethnic and racial diversity at the postsecondary level.
The MetLife Foundation's relatively limited higher ed funding focuses primarily on scholarships, college readiness and success programs, and increasing financial inclusion for low- and middle-income communities. It also gives annual awards to individual researchers focused on Alzheimer's disease.
California Institute of Technology is one of its core investments, but STEM projects at leading universities and research institutes across the country and abroad have found support from the Moore Foundation.
Motorola grants support outreach to underrepresented groups, career development for STEM majors and graduate students, and efforts to attract K-12 students into STEM.
Mott focuses on higher education through its Success Beyond High School subprogram, but postsecondary institutions can also secure funding through its programs in the environment, civil society, and the area of Flint, Michigan. Some programs include both a domestic and international focus.
NAMM gives a handful of higher ed grants in music making and music research, but by invitation only. It also offers modest scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students in fields related to its work.
NFPF doesn't fund performing arts productions or study, but if your passion lies in preserving historically significant films for posterity, this is the foundation for you.
The NGLC network, backed largely by the Gates Foundation, gives higher ed grants to support new teaching models and innovative uses of technology.
Northrop Grumman funds postsecondary STEM education mainly through scholarships, diversity initiatives, support for current and former members of the military, and career pipeline and cybersecurity programs.
Osher supports projects to help older adults complete unfinished degrees, change careers or advance in their existing ones, or take classes for the joy of learning. It also offers funding for scholarships, fellowships, integrative medicine, and arts and education.
The Pentair Foundation invests in higher education institutions across the United States.
Much of PSF's higher education philanthropy supports scholarship programs, but it has also funded endowed professorships and cancer research.
The PPG Industries Foundation funds STEM through its higher education focus.
The T. Rowe Price Foundation supports universities and community colleges across the United States. It also invests in arts and culture and human services.
Established by the widow of Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, the foundation gives higher ed funding to support individual students in dance, theater and film.
The Reynolds Foundation's higher ed programs support journalism and the study of geriatrics. The options for first-time grantseekers are limited, but the foundation issues requests for proposals and (very occasionally) approves unsolicited proposals.
Salesforce makes grants to colleges, universities, and other academic organizations.
The Sandler Foundation supports higher education institutions across the United States.
Much of this foundation's money goes to conservative think tanks and policy institutes. Grantmaking in higher education also considers these issues, including by supporting centers based on campuses.
SAS supports higher ed through in-kind donations, helps with establishing advanced certificate and degree programs, and offers scholarships to enable postsecondary students to attend and present at its conferences.
Bernard and Lisa Selz have a strong history of support for archeology and medieval art, among other interests.
The Shubert Foundation's higher education subprogram is extremely competitive, with only a handful of grants each year going to support graduate-level theater programs.
The Simons Foundation funds individual scientists and investigators, as well as institutions of higher education. However, opportunities also exist for postdoctoral researchers and other beginning scientists.
Sloan awards higher ed grants for STEM education and research, and for students from underrepresented groups.
The Van Sloun Foundation invests in small to mid-sized colleges and large universities.
Starr's grants enable colleges and universities to provide their students with need-based scholarships. The foundation also awards higher ed grants for foreign exchange student programs, medical research, the arts, and policy work.
The Surdna Foundation's higher ed grantmaking has varied widely but has tended to include a focus on social justice and support for underserved communities.
The Templeton Foundation's "Science and the Big Questions" program is its biggest for higher ed, but it also funds initiatives focused on character development, free markets and personal freedom, STEM education, and genetics.
Of late, the Time Warner Foundation’s performing arts higher education giving has mainly supported performing arts institutes as well as fellowships or workshop programs within performing arts companies. Increasing diversity is also an important priority.
The foundation's higher ed funding primarily prioritizes a small number of longtime partners, and most of its grantees were originally invited to apply.
The philanthropic offshoot of Union Pacific Corporation and Union Pacific Railroad gives modest grants to colleges and universities through its Community-Based Grant Program. The foundation has an open application process, but you must be located in a community "reasonably close" to one of its rail lines.
UPS Foundation backs expanding access to higher education largely through grants to preselected organizations, but you can also be nominated for support by a UPS employee who volunteers with your organization.
USA Funds supports college completion projects designed to better align higher education and workforce needs.
The six regional nonprofits that makeup USRAO give higher ed grants to colleges, universities, and other presenting organizations that host touring performers from across the U.S. and around the world.
The Verizon Foundation takes a broad approach towards its higher education grantmaking preferring to support a variety of colleges and universities across the United States.
This funder supports higher ed performing arts, in large part by funding research and audience outreach efforts. Most grants are by invitation only, but the Wallace Foundation does accept inquiries.
Walmart gives to higher ed at the local, state, and national levels through support for job training, research initiatives, scholarship funds, and scholarships for Walmart Associates' dependents and children.
Postsecondary institutions have received funding from the Walton Foundation for work in its programs in K-12 Education, Environment, and the foundation's "Home Region" of northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta.
Wells Fargo supports diversity, military vets, scholarships, college readiness initiatives, and research and projects related to its other giving areas. It also has an employee matching gifts program.
Wenner-Gren supports the field of anthropology through grants for Ph.D. candidates and postdocs for fieldwork, research sharing, and the expansion of doctoral programs in countries where the field is underrepresented and underfunded.
The Wilson Fellowship Foundation supports building the nation's future leaders and scholars, but it also gives funds to prepare outstanding individuals to teach in high-need high schools.
The Robert R. Woodruff Foundation supports elementary schools, secondary schools, and higher education.
The philanthropic arm of Xerox gives to science education with an eye toward research, as well as increasing the diversity, readiness, and size of tomorrow’s STEM workforce.