Hearst Foundations: Grants for Science Education

OVERVIEW: The Hearst Foundations support well-established nonprofit organizations with agendas that align with the foundations’ funding priorities in culture, education, health, and social service.

IP TAKE:  Hearst prioritizes established, successful organizations. Grantseekers whose operating budget is less than $1 million are ineligible.

PROFILE:  The Hearst Foundations, founded by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, seek to “ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives.” Hearst consists of two separate foundations, one created on the east coast in 1945 and a second established on the west coast in 1948. Their missions were (and remain) the same, as are the granting stipulations. Their only real difference is geographical. The foundations support STEM education using both Culture and Education grants, which distinguishes them from other STEM education funders.

Hearst's culture grants support nonprofits that “offer meaningful programs in the arts and sciences, prioritizing those which enable engagement by young people and create a lasting impression.” This split funding priority places STEM grantseekers in competition with organizations specializing in theater, music, dance, or visual arts education and engagement. 

Hearst’s education grants support "educational institutions demonstrating uncommon success in preparing students to thrive in a global society." The foundations' focus in this funding area is primarily higher education, though they still earmark support for "innovative models of early childhood and K-12 education, as well as professional development."

The Hearst Foundations seeks STEM programs that differentiate themselves from their peers—not just in an approach to programming, but also in terms of results. They prefer organizations that “enable engagement by young people and create a lasting impression.” The foundations also prioritize results and expect “evidence of sustainability” from programs beyond Hearst’s own support of them. The foundations regularly give both program and capital support (and a limited amount of general and endowment support) to 501(c)3 groups. Grantseekers must have an annual operating budget of at least $1 million to be eligible. The foundations say 60 percent of grantees in culture and 80 percent in education have budgets over $10 million.

Most STEM funding in culture supports museums and science centers (perhaps because these organizations are large enough to qualify for Hearst grants) but there is nothing precluding other 501(c)3 organizations from applying.

They also support a significant number of post-secondary institutions for STEM-related programs for underserved students, as well as direct student STEM scholarships linked to those post-secondary institutions. Past grantees in both Culture and Education can be found using the foundations’ Grant Recipients Database.

The Hearst Foundations have an open online application process. However, they indicate that 80 percent of their funding supports previous recipients. But for grantseekers whose proposals are accepted, long-term funding is likely.

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