M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust: Grants for Science Education


OVERVIEW: The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust focuses its giving almost entirely in five Pacific Northwest states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Its interests range from health to the arts, but it gives to both science research and education, with a good deal of crossover.

IP TAKE: If you’re in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington, Murdock has many entry points and is open to new proposals, inviting LOIs on an ongoing basis. The trust has in the past shown a preference for natural sciences and the acquisition of knowledge.

PROFILE: The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust is an independent foundation built on the wealth and name of tech company executive Jack Murdock. But its giving—both in regional focus, sheer volume, and breadth of subject matter—is reminiscent of a community foundation.

Murdock’s education program funds a combination of formal and informal education. Improving STEM education isn’t an explicit goal, but opportunities certainly exist. Funding tends to be directed at higher ed, but we’ll start with K-12.

For primary and secondary education, support has gone to a wide range of recipients. Definitely not to be overlooked is the Partners in Science program, which makes $15,000 awards to send high school teachers to conduct research in academic labs for two summers. But awardees have also included museums, K-12 districts, and even individual teachers, with grants funding areas like museum collections preservation, teacher training, and program development and expansion.

That said, as mentioned above, Murdock’s Education program explicitly prioritizes higher ed. This is reflected in its giving, but keep in mind that education funding is not limited to science or even STEM, so your science proposal will be competing with a broad spectrum of college and university initiatives.

If science research is more in line with your higher ed proposal, the foundation’s Scientific Research Grants program has given more than 60 grants annually “for projects in the natural sciences where the main objective is the acquisition of new knowledge.” Murdock will also consider proposals in medicine and engineering. Keep in mind that “Training students in conducting research is an important consideration” when determining grant funding.

One downside for higher ed researchers is that science research is one of the more restrictive in terms of eligibility. LOIs from individual researchers are generally not accepted, with funding usually going through select universities. Only applications from research institutions or major universities, generally in the Pacific Northwest, are eligible.

Murdock gives breakdowns of its funding by program area as well as annual lists of grantees at its Grants Awarded page.

For institutions or researchers interested and eligible for Murdock's programs, LOIs can be submitted online. The foundation will not review an LOI prior to submission, but it staff willing to answer questions.

Before sending in that LOI, though, one thing to keep in mind is that the application process varies, so closely review the guidelines for your specific program.


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