Henry Luce Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Luce Foundation is an iconic funder of humanities research. It dedicates humanities funding to American art, Asia, and religion in international affairs. The foundation also offers higher education support through other program areas, but those grants are generally either fewer in number or directed at fields outside the humanities.

IP TAKE: With its wide range of humanities programs, earning Luce grants is largely a matter of finding the most appropriate program. Be sure to contact program staff before submitting a letter of inquiry.

PROFILE: The Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Time magazine co-founder Henry R. Luce. It’s mission centers on concerns regarding American ideals, internationalism, and "innovation and leadership" and “seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.” Luce’s program areas include American Art, Asia, Higher Education, Public Policy, and Theology.

Luce’s American Art program supports “scholarly study of painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, decorative arts, photography, and architecture.” Past Luce funding has supported exhibitions at campus museums and dissertation research. Ineligible fields include “film or broadcast media” as well as those “that are predominantly historical, social, documentary, technological, or that concern private collections.”

The foundation’s Asia program has a two-pronged strategy: supporting “cultural and intellectual exchange between the United States and the countries of East and Southeast Asia,” and “creating scholarly and public resources for improved understanding of Asia in the United States.”

The Religion in International Affairs program focuses on colleges and universities (along with media and policy groups) with a mission to “deepen understanding of religion as a critical but often neglected dimension of national and international policies and politics.” Grants have supported conferences at colleges that align with this mission. The foundation also supports research that is international and collaborative, multidisciplinary, and/or comparative.

Luce’s Higher Education program broadly supports projects that fall outside of its core funding areas. This leaves room for a variety of different projects. However, Luce only offers a handful of grants through this initiative. 

There are a few other programs at the foundation that support colleges, universities, and individual scholars, but traditionally have not prioritized the humanities (or at least not exclusively). For instance, the Clare Booth Luce program supports women scholars in STEM fields. Similarly, the Luce Scholars program provides “young leaders” who have an interest in Asia but little to no experience in the region with “stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia,” but this program is open to applicants from all academic disciplines.

Grants are typically $100-$300,000, but may range from $10,000 to $750,000. View Luce’s Recent Grants to a greater understanding of how Luce funds applicants. Awards under $50,000 are decided by the foundation’s president after review and recommendation by the program director and a “panel of outside experts." Grants above that amount are recommended by the program director to the president and the Board.


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