Starr Foundation: Grants in Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Starr Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States and has focused on education since its founding in 1955. Starr is a major scholarship and exchange program funder at postsecondary institutions across the country, and also provides support through to colleges and universities through its culture and the arts, human needs, medicine and healthcare, and public policy programs.

IP TAKE: Starr funds universities across the United States; however, it prioritizes grantees based in or serving communities in the New York City area. The Starr Foundation also does not accept unsolicited proposals or materials.

PROFILE: The Starr Foundation was established by insurance entrepreneur Cornelius Vander Starr, who left his estate to the foundation after he passed in 1968. The foundation’s sparse website has limited information about its grantmaking guidelines and strategies. However, it broadly funds education, medicine and healthcare, human needs, public policy, culture and the environment.

In terms of its support for higher education, scholarship organizations and postsecondary schools throughout the United States offer Starr Foundation-supported scholarships. The foundation also "funds organizations that provide need-based financial aid to students seeking to attend secondary and post-secondary schools" as well as a number of exchange programs that send U.S. students abroad and bring international students to the U.S. The foundation’s endowments are invitation-only.

Its medicine and healthcare focus allocates “significant research grants and grants to assist in the provision of healthcare to under-served communities in New York City and overseas,” with a stated plan to focus increasingly on preventative healthcare going forward. Among the most significant grants in this area was a recent $10 million award to support stem cell research at the University of Miami Medical School, and a $6 million endowment for the creation of two professor positions in veterinary medicine at Cornell University.

Starr’s public policy program focuses on “international relations and the promotion of the rule of law and democratic institutions around the world.” In this regard, the foundation recently lent its support to Texas A&M University “for the George H. W. Bush 6th Biennial China-U.S. Relations Conference...held in Beijing.” The foundation also recently gave $1 million in unrestricted support to the NYU School of Law, as well as a similarly unrestricted award of $25,000 to the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.

Starr does not accept unsolicited proposals and has no public application process. Individuals interested in scholarships should consult with their school’s financial aid division to see if Starr endows a scholarship at their school.

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