Higher Fducation grants comprise the most significant portion of education philanthropy in the United States. Support invests in a wide range of needs on campus. While alumni donors play the biggest role in supporting colleges and universities, many institutional grantmakers also give in this space. Inside Philanthropy’s Higher Education funder guides specifically examine individual opportunities for college scholarships, as well as opportunities for institutional funding to benefit entire universities. It does not cover science research, which has its own page on IP, nor does it cover scholarships and fellowships related to the arts, which are covered elsewhere below. As reflected in this guide, higher education grants invest in university infrastructure improvements; investments in college classroom learning; and overall improvements to curriculum, student support, and faculty support.
This guide focuses on which national foundations give to higher education and college scholarships overall; however, IP has also three more specialized higher education-related 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.
All the profiles of funders in this guide are updated regularly. Only paid subscribers can access this resource (subscribe here).
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.
American Express supports colleges and academic institutions across the country, but it prioritizes giving in six U.S. locations.
Ametek maintains a broad approach to its higher education grantmaking.
The Andersen Foundation funds higher education institutions across the United States.
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 education, but postsecondary researchers engaging in “transformative” work can find support in many of Arnold’s program areas.
The Sidley Austin Foundation broadly supports higher education institutions across the United States.
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.
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.
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 education giving is national in scope and focuses largely on "capacity building" activities.
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.
Brinson’s higher education spending prioritizes Chicago, which the exception of 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.
The Brown Foundation supports higher education institutions around the country, but does not name particular higher education grantmaking strategies.
The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation prioritizes Nebraskan high school students.
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 Celanese Foundation supports higher education institutions around the country.
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.
Citi's higher education 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.
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.
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 Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund supports higher education institutions across the country including large universities and local community colleges.
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.
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.
Druckenmiller has supported 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.
Eligibility from the duPont Foundation is limited to organizations (including 42 liberal arts colleges) that received funding from Jessie Ball duPont during her lifetime.
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.
The Einhorn Family Charitable Trust seeks organizations with the ability to make meaningful and measurable progress over time.
The Emerson Charitable Trust supports a variety of higher education institutions across the country. It does not name specific areas of study or programs to which it gives funding priority.
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.
Since its recent restructuring, Ford will funnel its higher education 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.
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.
The Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas Foundation’s higher education grants typically focus on women’s scholarships.
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 education fundraisers should focus on Hewlett’s Education, Environment, and Global Development and Population programs. It accepts unsolicited LOIs 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.
The William H. Hurt Foundation seeks higher education institutions and organizations located in areas in which foundation staff and board members reside.
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 Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation awards grants to higher education institutions located across the country; however, it prioritizes those located on the East Coast.
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.
The charitable arm of the accounting firm, KPMG Foundation's business-oriented higher education support focuses on business education through funding for select organizations, scholarships, diversity initiatives, academic conferences, and a matching gifts program.
Higher education 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.
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 education organizations.
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-education 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 MetLife Foundation's relatively limited higher education 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.
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.
The Nationwide Foundation awards grants to higher education institutions located within and around its geographic priority region.
The NGLC network, backed largely by the Gates Foundation, gives higher ed grants to support new teaching models and innovative uses of technology.
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 T. Rowe Price Foundation supports universities and community colleges across the United States. It also invests in arts and culture and human services.
Established the widow of Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, the foundation gives higher education funding to support individual students in dance, theater and film.
The Raikes Foundation’s higher education grants broadly work to provide all students with access to a quality education in the United States. It also focuses on youth homelessness believing success isn’t possible without a holistic approach to the individual.
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.
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.
SC Johnson supports colleges, universities and higher education institutions around the United States.
Bernard and Lisa Selz have a strong history of support for archeology and medieval art, among other interests.
The Van Sloun Foundation invests in small to mid-sized colleges and large universities.
The George Snow Scholarship Fund awards over $1 million in scholarships for undergraduate study to students in Southern Florida each year.
The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation awards grants to higher education institutions across the United States. Spencer does not award a large number of higher education grants each year.
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.
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.
Walmart gives to higher education 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.