*Think About Foundation Funding*

It is possible that one or more local, state, or national foundations may be appropriate potential sources of funding for your projects. Most non-profit foundations have very specific missions and will only fund programs having to do with their particular interest areas. However, if you search, foundation funding can be obtained for a variety of projects. These might include projects related to human services, community development, the environment, educational activities, and the promotion of arts and culture. Foundation funding can be restricted to particular places and as well as types of activities. Many foundations consider their grant funding to be investments in their regions of geographical interest.

For example, the WK Kellogg Foundation prioritizes its funding in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New Orleans, nationally, and Haiti and Mexico, internationally. While the locations listed above are their priorities, other locations (eg, Child Care Resource Center, Inc., Opelika, Alabama) where programs meet the mission of the foundation can benefit from WK Kellogg Foundation funding. The WK Kellogg Foundation’s programs focus on Educated Kids, Healthy Kids, Secure Families, Community & Civic Engagement, and Racial Equity. They offer various types of support, including fellowships, operating funds, program development and evaluation, and seed funds, among others.

Another example is The Coca-Cola Foundation, which focuses their grant funding on economic empowerment of women, access to clean water and water conservation, active healthy living, education, and youth development. Their regions of interest include California, District of Columbia, Georgia, New York, Texas, and Virginia. It offers continuing support, fellowships, operating support, program development, and scholarships.

Some foundations operate nationally, for example, The Abbvie Patient Assistance Foundation (previously known as the Abbot Patient Assistance Foundation). Their primary focus is on diabetes and healthcare and they provide Abbott medications and care products to disadvantaged individuals. Biology and medical research are the primary interests of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, another foundation with a national focus. It promotes early career development of scientists planning careers in academic research, physician-scientists, science and math teachers, and others. This foundation supports program development and research activities.

While some foundations prefer not to receive an introductory phone call, many others do not have restrictions. Therefore, it is important to do the necessary “homework” to determine if your project is a good match that will interest your targeted list of foundations, and a direct phone call is often appropriate. A well-scripted phone call serves to introduce you and your project, and allows the foundation’s program officer to assess the potential level of interest in your project. According to the Foundation Center, this sometimes leads to an invitation to submit a letter of inquiry or even a full proposal. At the very least, it serves to introduce your name and your institution to the foundation’s program officer, and establishes a relationship that may grow in the future.

An internet search will yield access to a number of websites that provide information about foundation funding. Your institution may have subscriptions to some of them. An example is the Foundation Center’s Foundation Directory Online. Your institution’s research development office is an often underutilized resource for assistance with locating more information about foundation and other funding opportunities.


*How Do I Find Funding Opportunities?*

Many people tell me they are unable to find grant opportunities relevant to their fields. Sometimes, they don’t realize that because of the economic and competitive realities of the research environment, they may have to realign their research interests to coincide with available funding opportunities (more about this in future posts).

Of course, one way to locate funding opportunities is to simply ask colleagues for advice. Interestingly, people sometimes do not take advantage of the resources available next door or down the hall. Another way to locate funding opportunities is to investigate your colleagues and competitors. Who supplies their funding? A third way to locate funding opportunities is to determine what grants a particular agency has funded in the past—focus on the funding agency and search for “grants funded.” Such information is usually available on the website, although it may take some effort to find it.

The NIH Reporter provides vast amounts of information on NIH funded grants, including researcher and organization, text search, project details, and other filters. Likewise, the NSF offers Award Search with simple search and advanced search capabilities that include awardee information, program information, and other information such as keyword search functionality. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation maintains a Grant Archive that is searchable by keyword or grant number, status (active vs. closed), date awarded, and geographical location. From evaluating the grants funded in the past, it is often easy to ascertain if your research strategy could be seriously considered for funding by any given agency.

Many times, people have told me they are simply unfamiliar with the easiest places to search for funding opportunities or it just seems to be too hard to do a thorough search. If you are really stumped, take advantage of services offered by your research development office—people there should be able to give you new ideas about funding sources.

Below, I have listed some of the most recognizable funding search sources and a few specific funding opportunities. More information on funding topics will be forthcoming in subsequent blog posts.

To Locate Traditional Funding Opportunities

Free resources available on the Web to locate potential traditional funding opportunities:

Paid resources available on the Web to locate potential traditional funding opportunities: your institution may have subscriptions.

  • PIVOT (formerly Community of Science)

Pre-doctoral Students

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

National Science Foundation SBE Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants

National Institutes of Health, Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31)

US Department of Agriculture, Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship (NNF) Grants Program

Cornell Fellowships Database

UCLA Graduate & Postdoctoral Extramural Support Database (GRAPES)

Postdoctoral Associates / Fellows

National Institutes of Health, Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards for Individual Postdoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F32)

Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00)

NSF Specialized Information for Postdoctoral Fellows

Cornell Fellowships Database

Michigan State University Graduate Fellowships Database

UC, Berkeley: Postdoctoral funding in the social sciences

UC, Berkeley: Postdoctoral funding in the humanities

UCLA Graduate & Postdoctoral Extramural Support Database (GRAPES)