Intel: Grants for STEM Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Intel’s philanthropy comes through both the company’s corporate responsibility and the Intel Foundation. Combined, these entities offer technology grants, entrepreneurial programs for students, research grants, scholarships, and technology gifts that frequently interweave the corporation’s products with classroom pedagogy and curricula. Intel prioritizes increased representation of women and minorities in the field, education competitions, and teacher development.

IP TAKE: Unlike many corporate foundations that have just a few grantees, Intel funds quite a few grants every year, and its support is diverse in size, subject matter, and recipient group. There are opportunities here, both big and small, but the foundation doesn't accept unsolicited proposals.

PROFILE: The Intel Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Intel Corporation, the largest semiconductor chip maker in the world. While Intel founders Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce have large private foundations in their own names, which give millions to science education, the company does its own share of philanthropy. The foundation prioritizes STEM education, supports underrepresented groups in STEM, and supports Intel employees' efforts to improve their communities.

Like many corporate-backed funders, the Intel Foundation prefers partnerships where the company can play some role in the work being carried out and seeks to support communities where the company is based (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Massachusetts).

It can be unclear which higher education programs receive support from the foundation and which receive support by the corporation itself. In either case, education is a major focus of Intel’s philanthropic operations, and higher education fits into that in several key ways:

  • Professors at colleges and universities who can receive training programs to help them educate the next generation of innovators. Grants are also available for research projects into how technology can make industries more efficient, and Intel also collaborates with faculty in curriculum development and supports promising early-stage Ph.D. faculty.
  • Students pursuing degrees or research can receive support including scholarships, fellowships, and research grants for undergraduate and graduate programs. Although it is not technically philanthropy, Intel also offers internships and career recruitment programs for students as well.
  • Researchers who benefit from Intel’s support through exploratory, “focused,” or “long-term industry” investigations that involve collaboration between top-level minds in the academy and those within the company itself. Focus areas trend towards cutting-edge questions, challenges, and future directions to advance existing technologies and expanding the limits of the possibilities in the field.

Many opportunities for students, professors, and researchers are available through universities where Intel has developed strong partnerships. For instance, across the United States, Intel sponsors Intel Science and Technology Centers that serve as research facilities for professors and students, and it has developed these relationships over many years. Intel also sponsors collaboratives offering both undergraduate and graduate support for students in higher education. For example, it sponsors higher education fellowships and undergraduate research through the Semiconductor Research Corporation Education Alliance, a self-described “private foundation…[that] develops sources of funding to provide undergraduate and graduate science and engineering students with a unique education consisting of traditional coursework, cutting-edge research, and direct interaction with the semiconductor industry.” It is also a patron of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering & Science (GEM).  

The line between STEM education, which includes students in all grades, and university technology programs is a little blurred when looking at some means of support. For example, Intel supports science and technology curriculum development, and it also sponsors science and engineering fairs across the country at the secondary and postsecondary levels. 

The Intel Foundation funds a gifts program (matching employees’ financial donations) and a grant program (matching “volunteer hours performed by Intel employees and US Intel retirees”) for both K-12 and postsecondary institutions.

All told, Intel gives out hundreds of grants each year, ranging from as little as $5,000 and into the millions of dollars. Current and past grantees and sponsored programs can be found here. Intel does not accept unsolicited grant proposals, and its grantmaking can be difficult to navigate. New grantseekers should try starting with a letter of introduction to program staff or to an employee who may be interested in contributing funds or volunteering.