Booth Ferris Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Booth Ferris Foundation’s three main programs are in Arts and Culture, Strengthening NYC, and Education. The foundation is well known for its funding of arts, culture, and K-12 education projects, all of which are focused on New York City. But this funder’s higher education projects have a national scope and focus largely on "capacity building" activities.

IP TAKE: Booth Ferris’s giving demonstrates a broad range of interests. Private liberal arts colleges and organizations with college and career readiness programs should especially keep an eye on this funder.

PROFILE: Established in 1957 by Willis H. Booth and his wife, Chancie Ferris, the Booth Ferris Foundation has awarded over $281 million to charitable causes over the course of its history. Booth was a successful banker and business executive who became the vice-president of the Guaranty Trust Company and Hotpoint Electric Heating Company.

The Booth Ferris Foundation is well known for its New-York-City-oriented funding of arts, culture, and K-12 education projects. But the foundation’s higher education giving has a national scope. So does its religion program - an important consideration, since many grants represent a mesh of these two interests.

The funder describes its higher education program as focused on "capacity building" activities. A look at Booth Ferris's recent higher education giving reveals a broad range of higher education interests, including college and career readiness for high school students, student mentoring models, and support for programs that train future teachers. Some recent grants include:

  • $175,000 to Agnes Scott College in Georgia for a Resource Center for Math and Science
  • $100,000 to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for capacity building activities related to a Master of Arts in Teaching Program
  • $220,000 to Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania for a Next Generation Leaders mentoring study
  • $150,000 to National Academy Foundation for its College and Career Readiness Initiative
  • $450,000 to Bard College in New York for its Early College High School model

    As the Bard, Franklin and Marshall, and Agnes Scott examples indicate, private liberal arts colleges should keep an eye on this funder as a source of support. The funder's interest in college and career readiness activities bridge its higher education and K-12 activities, so organizations outside NYC with college and career readiness programs should also keep this funder on their radar. Click here for a full list of the foundation’s education-related giving.

    Also important to consider are the areas Booth Ferris will not fund. The foundation’s guidelines state that it will not support arts-related education facilities or programs (the foundation's Arts and Culture program has that area covered). Other areas excluded from higher ed support are “student unions, dormitories or athletic facilities,” standalone scholarship funds, endowments, or general operations. It does leave the door open to supporting other capital projects, provided such activities have met at least 50 percent of their fundraising goals.

    Fortunately for local grantseekers, the Booth Ferris Foundation does accept unsolicited grant proposals. All applications must be submitted online using the JPMorgan Chase online application. Rather than employing a dedicated staff of its own, the foundation hands operations and administration over to advisors at the bank. However, the Booth Ferris Foundation is in no way affiliated with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

    The application deadline for all funding requests is Feb. 1 of each year. For awardees, keep in mind that as per the foundation, a “minimum of three years must elapse between grant awards.”


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