Broad Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Eli and Edythe Broad have pledged to give away 75% of their massive fortune. For higher ed grantseekers, some of their main targets include science, medical research and K-12 education research. The Broad Foundation does not have a higher ed grantmaking program, but it does support universities to further clinical therapies for major diseases as well as irritable bowel diseases, and funds postsecondary work on education reform.

IP TAKE: A major player in education reform as well as science and medical research, Broad is tackling some of the most challenging health problems and vexing social issues of the day. The foundation is not particularly accessible, but it prioritizes California-based proposals.

PROFILE: The Broad Foundations—a combination of the Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation—recently reported over $2 billion in shared assets, and they aren't sitting on it. The Broads made their wealth from Eli Broad's two successful companies in real estate and insurance, and they are one of the wealthiest families to commit to the Giving Pledge, with the intent to donate 75% of their fortune. As such, their foundations have regularly made more than $150 million a year in grants to education, arts, cultural institutions and science research.

For higher ed grant seekers, Broad Foundation has three big interests in science/medical research: Genomic medical research, stem cells and inflammatory bowel diseases. Funding for genomics goes mostly through the Broad Institute, a partnership with MIT, Harvard, and the Whitehead Institute that aims to use the human genome to benefit clinical medicine. Broad's founding contribution was $600 million.

As for stem cell work, the foundation mainly backs research centers at USC, UCLA and the University of California, San Francisco. The Broads founded two of these centers, and their support has gone to facilities, equipment, and faculty directed to turn the study of stem cells into therapies for diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and Parkinson's.

Finally, the funder has a niche interest in curing and treating inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. To combat the disorders, the foundation established the Broad Medical Research Program for Inflammatory Bowel Disease in 2001. In 2014, the Broad Medical Research Program merged with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. This area appears to be the most open for grantseekers; for funding of IBD research projects, review the application process before sending a letter of interest. You can also see annual lists of Broad Medical Research Program-funded work by clicking here, as well as any Special Requests for Proposals.

Shifting gears, the Broads’ education focus is squarely on K-12 education reform, with programs directed at policy, teaching and learning innovations, leadership, and institution design. Little of the foundation’s education reform funding goes to higher education, but there are a few exceptions for universities conducting “research in areas that align with our investment strategy, including personalized learning, better pay for better teachers, mayoral control of school districts and expanded learning time.” One example is Harvard University’s Education Innovation Laboratory (EdLabs), which studies achievement gaps as well as potentially replicable “reform interventions.” Another is a scholarship program to help graduates of Detroit Public Schools attend a teacher preparation program at the Michigan State University College of Education, contingent on their “commit[ment] to teach in Detroit Public Schools upon completion of the program.”

Like many funders of its size, Broad regularly gives large sums to its big-name projects and doesn't exactly have the most wide-open application process. But considering the size and scale of the Broads’ giving, there is certainly a lot to work with. Also, keep in mind that California-based organizations have a definite edge, having received around half of Broad grants in recent years.


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