Pershing Square Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Pershing Square Foundation operates both in the United States and internationally. It funds the arts, urban and economic development, education, and healthcare and medical research. Much of its higher education funding invests in scholarship programs, but it funds endowed professorships and cancer research.

IP TAKE: Pershing Square takes a “business minded” approach to its giving. It is willing to take risks, but expects big results. It does not accept unsolicited grant applications, but applicants for its Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research may submit a letter of intent.

PROFILE:  The Pershing Square Foundation, established in 2006 by Bill Ackman and his wife Karen, is a New-York-based operation founded by Bill Ackman, head of Pershing Square Capital Management, and his wife Karen. The foundation operates both in the U.S. and internationally, and divides its giving into five focus areas: Arts and Urban Development, Economic Opportunity and Development, Education, Health and Life Sciences, and Social Justice.

The Pershing Square Foundation conducts grantmaking dedicated to higher education through a variety of its programs, but does not name specific grantmaking higher education strategies or interests. Higher education funding has supported college readiness efforts, DREAMers, business schools, cancer research, and international scholarship support in Beijing. For instance, it has funded TheDream.Us, which gives college scholarships to “DREAMers,” whose lack of legal status means that they do not qualify for federal student aid or federally funded grants. TheDream.US gives awards of “up to $25,000 for tuition and fees to high school graduates who are first-time college students or community college graduates seeking to complete their bachelor’s degrees.” Past grantees include Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and 15 years of support for one scholar per year at the Schwarzman Scholars endowed international scholarship program, a Beijing-based operation “dedicated to academic excellence and the interaction between Chinese and Western cultures.”

In addition, the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance, supports “innovative cancer research and [...] collaborations between academia and industry.” Among its initiatives is the Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research, which offers “$200,000 per year for up to three years [and] is awarded annually to at least five New York City-based scientists.” This award requires a letter of intent, after which some applicants might be selected to submit a full proposal. Eligibility is limited to M.D.s and Ph.D.s with 2-8 years of experience heading a lab and with “faculty appointments at academic research institutions...at the level of Assistant or Associate Professor” in the area of New York City, Long Island, and Northern and Central New Jersey.

Grants range all the way from $25,000 to millions of dollars. A complete list of Pershing Square’s past grants and current partnerships is available in its Portfolio.

Unfortunately, the foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals.

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