Starr Foundation: Grants for STEM Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Starr Foundation has focused on education since its founding in 1955. Most of its higher ed funding is directed at scholarship and exchange programs, but colleges and universities have received medical science grants through its Medicine and Healthcare program.

IP TAKE: The Starr Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States, with assets of more than $1 billion, but does not accept unsolicited proposals or materials. Most of its grantees are either based in or otherwise serve communities in the New York City area, but universities around the country have received awards from this funder.

PROFILE: The Starr Foundation was founded by insurance entrepreneur Cornelius Vander Starr, who left his estate to the foundation after his passing in 1968. In addition to education, the foundation supports efforts in the areas of "medicine and healthcare, human needs, public policy, culture and the environment."

Starr's primary higher ed focus is on scholarship organizations and postsecondary schools throughout the United States that offer Starr Foundation-supported scholarships, "need-based financial aid to students seeking to attend secondary and post-secondary schools," and a number of exchange programs that send U.S. students abroad and bring international students to the U.S. 

While Starr's other programs (Culture and the Arts, Human Needs, Public Policy, and the Environment) do not appear to have attracted much STEM-related higher ed funding, 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.

The most significant grants in this area include 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.

With these possibilities in mind, it is important to emphasize that Starr is no longer accepting unsolicited proposals—or any unsolicited materials, for that matter. Starr is also a fairly low-profile grantmaker,making for an uphill battle for first-time grantseekers.

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