Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for STEM Higher Education


OVERVIEW: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's grantmaking activities encompass science and STEM work, improved patient care, environmental conservation, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Science and STEM projects account for a significant portion of Moore's total giving, with most grants going to large universities.

IP TAKE: This funder places its major core investments, such as Caltech, at the front of the line for STEM grants. It doesn’t accept unsolicited proposals, but leading universities and research institutions do still have a chance at earning funding from the Moore Foundation.

PROFILE: Established in 2000 and based in San Francisco, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is guided by a vision of “Creating positive outcomes for future generations," which it pursues by supporting four key areas: “path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements, and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area.”

The Moore Foundation dedicates a significant portion of its science/STEM grantmaking funds to what it refers to as its "major core investments." These include the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech; the Marine Microbiology Initiative; a plant science collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and the Thirty Millimeter Telescope.

Moore's core investments are its first priority in science and STEM grantmaking. However, the foundation has also awarded tens of millions of dollars annually in recent years toward numerous scientific programs at large universities around the country. Funded projects have included Advanced Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Training for U.S. Coastal Managers, initiatives towards the development of effective science learning assessments (including technology-based assessments), various university-based science- and medical-oriented research projects. A more in-depth look into these projects and more is available at the foundation’s grants list database.

The Moore Foundation's grants have usually ranged from $20,000 to $2.5 million, with most falling in the $100,000 to $500,000 range. A limited number of grants have exceeded $2.5 million, and the recipients generally have been major research universities such as Caltech, Johns Hopkins, and the University of California.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the Moore Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals - a decision explained in more detail in a document explaining its “founders’ intent.” Instead, its staff researches a large number of organizations annually and reaches out to those in which the foundation has interest. That said, the foundation will accept email inquiries, so long as they max out at about 100 words.


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