Sarah Scaife Foundation: Grants for Higher Education


OVERVIEW: Founded by the late conservative billionaire philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife, the Sarah Scaife Foundation has funded a number of think tanks and public policy organizations. While much of the foundation's money goes to free-market think tanks and policy institutes, grantmaking in higher education also considers these issues, and is often directed at supporting policy-related scholarship and research.

IP TAKE: The bare-bones site of this free-market funder is limited to a landing page with instructions for solicitations and links to annual reports that detail its recent grant recipients. LOI's are accepted.

PROFILE: The Sarah Scaife Foundation is one of several philanthropic vehicles associated with the late Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife attended Deerfield Academy, Yale University, and the University of Pittsburgh. He also had a personal fortune of $1.4 billion in a recent year according to Forbes, and was a principal heir to the Mellon banking, oil, and aluminum fortune. Richard Scaife was a major early supporter of the Heritage Foundation, established in 1973, and raised and spent over $1 billion to push conservative policies on nearly every issue that Congress works on. He was also involved with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he was on the board of overseers.

The Sarah Scaife Foundation was founded by its namesake and Richard’s mother. It adopted its present name in 1974, and has focused on conservative policy issues. According to its website, the foundation’s grants are “primarily directed toward public policy programs that address major domestic and international issues,” with “no geographical restrictions.” Scaife boasts hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, which are expected to grow significantly in part as a result of organizational restructuring.

The Scaife Foundation's annual list of grantees includes a long list of public policy outfits, including the American Enterprise Institute, the American Foreign Policy Council, the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship.

Still, grantseekers in the realm of higher education might find funding through the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Recent higher education grants have included six-figure sums to the Carnegie Mellon University (toward public policy studies), the Missouri State University Foundation (toward the school's Department of Defense and Strategic Studies), Princeton University's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the University of Chicago's Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University is also a noteworthy recipient, and has received millions of dollars in support from Scaife since 1990. Hoover's mission includes principles such as "representative government, private enterprise, peace, and personal freedom," and senior fellows at the institution have included Condoleezza Rice, economist Thomas Sowell, and author Shelby Steele.

On a lesser scale, Scaife has made grants suggesting that it is not just interested in public policy, law, and economics when it comes to its higher education grantmaking. Scaife also made a large gift to University of Kentucky's Albert B. Chandler Hospital Auditorium in one recent year, and Scaife also supported his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, with millions, though many of these sums came through the Scaife Family Foundation. Scaife also gave awards to outfits such as the Collegiate Network, which supports "independent college periodicals that draw attention to the politicization and declining educational standards of America," and the National Association of Scholars, which is dedicated to "academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education."

As per the foundation’s web site, “Initial inquiries to the Foundation should be in letter form signed by the organization’s President, or authorized representative, and have the approval of the organization’s Board of Directors.” Also required are “a concise description” of your proposed program, and several documents related to your organization’s structure, leadership, and proof of non-profit status.


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