Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Not to be confused with the Getty Foundation established by their father, J. Paul Getty, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation gives performing arts support to educational institutions as well as symphonies and opera companies. Most of their giving is based in California—including a number of music scholarships—but their performing arts philanthropy funds higher education institutions nationwide. The foundation has also partially backed several recent scientific studies.

IP TAKE: The Gettys give regularly to higher education, but the foundation lacks transparency regarding its grantmaking guidelines and strategies. It maintains no web presence. The foundation’s arts higher education grants offer both unrestricted support and program-specific funding.

PROFILE: Based in San Francisco, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation has historically been a major arts funder. It prioritizes organizations based in California, but its higher education grantmaking benefits institutions throughout the United States. Gordon Getty, one of the richest men in America, is himself a music composer in addition to his work in the business and investment worlds. Over the years, the foundation has distributed millions of dollars to hundreds of music organizations throughout the country, symphonies and opera companies as well as colleges and universities.

The foundation’s higher education grants related to the arts tend to fund music departments and preforming arts institutions. Past higher education arts grantees include the Music Departments at multiple University of California campuses, Stanford University’s Stanford Live, and the University of Washington School of Music, and the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. The foundation’s arts higher education grants offer both unrestricted support and program-specific funding. In addition, it offers several performing arts scholarships, mostly for music undergraduates and graduate students at California colleges and universities like California Polytechnic State University, the University of California Irvine, and California State University Fullerton.

In addition, the foundation supports university science research. For example, the foundation was cited as a major backer of a study on “the time elapsed between the emergence of early dinosaur relatives and the origin of the first dinosaurs,” conducted by “scientists from Argentina, Brazil, California and the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah.”

Most of the foundation’s grants have ranged from $2,000 to $50,000. The foundation has been known to issue grants in significantly higher amounts, but much less often. Since the foundation does not maintain a web site, it is unclear how applicants can secure a fund or what strategies the foundation uses. Nor does the foundation issue calls for direct proposals.

Although contemporary news reports are available documenting various instances of foundation giving, in one recent year the foundation’s tax filing showed no grants approved for future payment, making it difficult to predict the foundation’s future giving.


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Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation
1 Embarcadero Ctr., Ste. 1350
San Francisco, CA United States 94111-3700
Telephone: 415-352-4410