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


OVERVIEW: The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust does its grantmaking almost entirely in five Pacific Northwest states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Its interests range from health to the arts, but it funds both science research and education.

IP TAKE: Murdock has many entry points for grantseekers in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington, and invites new proposals and LOIs. The trust prioritizes the natural sciences and the acquisition of knowledge.

PROFILE: The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created in 1975 by tech company executive Jack Murdock, is an independent foundation with a Pacific Northwest focus. The trust seeks to provide “grants and enrichment programs to organizations that strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.” Murdock’s education program funds a combination of formal and informal education, and while STEM education is not an explicit goal, opportunities certainly exist.

For primary and secondary education, support goes to a wide range of recipients. The Partners in Science program provides $15,000 grants to partner “high school science teachers with a mentor doing cutting-edge research in an academic lab or a lab associated with another nonprofit institution.” Past grantees include museums, K-12 districts, and individual teachers; grants have funded areas like museum collections preservation, teacher training, and program development and expansion.

However, Murdock’s Education program explicitly prioritizes higher education, and this is reflected in its grantmaking. New grantseekers should keep in mind that education funding is not limited to science or even STEM, so science proposals will compete with a broad spectrum of college and university initiatives.

For science research higher education proposals, the foundation’s Scientific Research Grants program funds more than 60 grants annually “for projects in the natural sciences where the main objective is the acquisition of new knowledge.” Murdock also considers proposals in medicine and engineering. Grantseekers should keep in mind that “Training students in conducting research is an important consideration” when determining grant funding.

One downside for higher education researchers is that science research is one of the more restrictive in terms of eligibility. The trust generally does not accept LOIs from individual researchers, and funding usually supports select universities. Only applications from research institutions or major universities, generally in the Pacific Northwest, are eligible.

Murdock breaks down its funding by program area and provides an annual lists of grantees at its Grants Awarded page.

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

New grantseekers should closely review the guidelines for their specific program before sending in their LOI as the application process varies. Murdock provides a lot of application and grant writing help with its Before you Start document and Writing Great Grants FAQs.