Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The STEM fields drive the majority of Sloan's higher education grantmaking, but fellowships and support for minorities are also important priorities.

IP TAKE: Grantseekers interested in better ways to teach science and technology, increase the number of women and ethnic minorities in the STEM professions, or harness the power of technology to make data and research more accessible, should definitely get to know this funder. Funding streams are often restricted by school, subject area, or target group, but within Sloan's programs there are many possibilities available.

PROFILE: Founded in 1934 by General Motors executive Alfred Sloan, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has grown into one of the largest private foundations in the United States. It “makes grants to support original research and broad-based education related to science, technology, and economic performance; and to improve the quality of American life.” In addition to Higher Education, Sloan broadly funds Science, Economics, Digital Technology, Public Understanding, Working Longer, and Energy and Environment.

Sloan’s Higher Education focus area broadly prioritizes the STEM fields. The Sloan Minority Ph.D. Program aims to “increase the diversity of higher education institutions and the work force in STEM fields through college and university initiatives that support the education and professional advancement of high-achieving individuals from underrepresented groups.” By contrast, the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership is designed to support Native Americans and Native Alaskans pursuing advanced degrees in STEM fields. Another higher education Sloan initiative is called Science of Learning STEM, which works to “enhance the persistence and success of students in STEM majors and programs through the improvement of STEM pedagogies that incorporate evidence-based principles of how people learn and account for differences in achievement among student groups, e.g., race/ethnicity and gender.The foundation also conducts grantmaking that benefits university research across various fields, such as Science, Economics, Digital Technology, Public Understanding, Working Longer, and Energy and Environment.

Sloan also supports higher education through its Research Fellowships program, which awards young scholars in physics, chemistry, mathematics, neuroscience, computer science, economics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, and ocean sciences. Fellowships are “designed to identify those who show the most outstanding promise of making fundamental contributions to new knowledge,” and fellows “are free to pursue whatever lines of inquiry are of the most compelling interest to them.”

Grants may range from $10,000 to $1 million. Consult the foundation’s Grants Database for more information on funding habits in individual areas.

Interested grantseekers may start by sending a letter of inquiry to the staff of the relevant program area. Note that not all areas accept such letters, so grantseekers should make sure to read the application guidelines on the program’s information page.

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