ExxonMobil: Grants for Science Education


OVERVIEW: The ExxonMobil Foundation has a partially overlapping emphasis on math and science education, women’s economic empowerment, and efforts to combat malaria.

IP TAKE: Like many big corporate foundations, ExxonMobil picks its champions (like the National Math and Science Initiative) and pours millions into them over multiple years. This funder gives big to higher ed as well as job and skills training, but funding is directed toward areas where ExxonMobil has a community presence and unsolicited requests are rarely accepted or approved.

PROFILE: The oil and gas titan ExxonMobil's philanthropic focus areas are on STEM education (especially for women and girls), health, and biodiversity and conservation. The ExxonMobil Foundation, a separate entity, has a partially overlapping emphasis on math and science education, women’s economic empowerment, and efforts to combat malaria. The majority of the Exxon's science education grants go to a handful of high-profile initiatives, but it does give smaller amounts to some secondary programs.

Broadly speaking, the philanthropic focus of ExxonMobil (the company) is on STEM education (especially for women and girls), health, and biodiversity and conservation. The foundation, meanwhile, “has a strategic focus supporting math and science education, for promoting women as catalysts for economic development and ending deaths from malaria.”

The giving areas of both the company and its eponymous foundation overlap in some respects and so are addressed jointly below.

For postsecondary fundraisers, a good place to start is with ExxonMobil’s higher education giving. The focus here is “on supporting programs that improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” but the foundation also “support[s] diversity-based education programs and professional societies.”  The majority of that funding comes through the Educational Matching Gift Program, which offers three-to-one matching contributions from company retirees and employees.

Through its Outreach Program, ExxonMobil also supports select U.S.-based “universities that seek to improve the career opportunities of women and minorities, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” International outfits also receive some funding, and the company emphasizes its efforts in Canada as well as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

For academics in science research, another place to look is at ExxonMobil’s antimalarial efforts, which looks for “New approaches and passionate, highly-trained leaders.”

The ExxonMobil Foundation also supports a number of math and science initiatives aimed at both K-12 and higher education, though the foundation has chosen just a handful of major outlets in its effort to improve the United States’ standing in the STEM world. This includes major support for groups like the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) and the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, which offers professional development support for elementary and middle school teachers.

Aside from these flagship programs, ExxonMobil supports a handful of other programs in science and education. It backs a number of professional groups for STEM teachers and professionals. The foundation also gives out a number of smaller grants to individual public school districts.

Lastly, although ExxonMobil’s Environment program receives less funding compared to its education programs, several universities have received awards in recent years in this area, including six-figure sums to support research and programs in biodiversity, conservation, and related areas.

ExxonMobil is definitely a heavyweight, but may be hard to reach. It prefers organizations in communities where it has “established or proactively developed relationships,” though it occasionally supports “organizations that operate across a nation or around the globe.” Furthermore, it “does not seek and rarely funds unsolicited grant applications and project proposals.”

That said, it does give out millions a year, and much of that funding is accessible elsewhere, either through professional development, student programs, or groups like the NMSI. For more information on ExxonMobil’s giving areas and recent recipients, check out its most recent Worldwide Giving Report, found on the corporation’s Worldwide Giving home page.


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