Ford Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: With more than $11 billion in assets, the Ford Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States. It prioritizes addressing inequality and fostering social change. 

IP TAKE: The Ford Foundation no longer has any explicit higher education strategies, but it continues to provide education-related grants through other initiatives.

PROFILE: Created in 1936 by the automaker Henry Ford and his son Edsel, the Ford Foundation has historically approached higher education grantmaking almost exclusively from a social justice angle. Indeed, the foundation believes in “harnessing the power of investment capital” to overcome the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems. In 2015, the Ford Foundation underwent a significant organizational restructuring, but the foundation’s work is still driven by the core view that “inequality, in all its forms, is the greatest impediment to just, fair, and peaceful societies;” all seven of its program areas are directed toward this issue.

The Ford Foundation’s higher education grantmaking has evolved and its former initiatives no longer exist, the foundation is still, as several Vice Presidents recently affirmed, rooted in the “principles that have guided the foundation for eight decades.” Currently, the foundation offers grants for higher education purposes through Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice or Future of Work. The foundation has historically focused its U.S. higher education grants on established and recognized universities such as NYU, Columbia, the University of Michigan, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Rutgers, as well as prestigious academic organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences.

Grants typically range from $100,000 to $500,000, but may go as low as $50,000 or as high as $3,000,000. Ford also has a major presence in Africa, China, India, and Latin America.  Examine Ford’s grants database for examples of recent grants in these areas.

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