ExxonMobil: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: ExxonMobil’s funds STEM education (especially for women and girls), health, and biodiversity and conservation. Within that scope, the ExxonMobil Foundation has a partially overlapping emphasis on math and science education, women’s economic empowerment, and efforts to combat malaria. 

IP TAKE: ExxonMobil generously supports higher education as well as job and skills training (both in the United States and internationally) in areas where it has a community presence; however, it rarely accepts unsolicited requests.

PROFILE: The ExxonMobil Foundation has existed under its current name since 2000, following the merger of the two oil corporations Exxon and Mobil. However, the foundation’s history dates back to 1955, when it was founded as the Esso Education Foundation. In a recent year, combined giving from ExxonMobil (the foundation, corporation, and employees and retirees) totaled about $280 million, with $100 million going toward education. Globally, this giving totaled $50 million for higher education, of which more than $40 million was allocated to institutions in the U.S. Its three main focus areas are Math and Science, Women’s Economic Opportunity, and Malaria Prevention.

ExxonMobil conducts most of its higher education related grantmaking through its Math and Science program. The foundation supports the National Math and Science Initiative, which “provides scalable and rigorous program solutions that empower school communities to prepare all students to succeed in college and the workforce,” and the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy. Through its Outreach Program, ExxonMobil also supports select U.S.-based “universities that seek to improve the career opportunities of women and minorities, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” A great deal of funding comes through the Educational Matching Gift Program, which offers three-to-one matching contributions from company retirees and employees. In a recent year, more than 850 colleges universities, and educational funds received support through this program.

ExxonMobil’s Malaria Prevention effort emphasizes the critical need for “new approaches and passionate, highly-trained leaders,” both of which are likely to connect in various ways to scholarly research and other work. To that end, since 2011, ExxonMobil has lent its support to “outstanding students from developing and emerging-market countries to pursue global health-focused Master’s degrees at Oxford University,” providing these individuals with “the opportunity to learn about the global burden of disease, epidemiological principles and how to apply classroom lessons to the real world,” as well as professional networking opportunities. In one recent year, over $860,000 also went toward various antimalarial initiatives at Harvard.

Complementing its antimalarial efforts, ExxonMobil has also funded higher education for other health-related issues. Past health higher education grantees include George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center, the Georgetown University Children’s Medical Center, and $2 million to the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas as part of a five-year, $10-million grant called the Healthy Communities Initiative.

ExxonMobil is not entirely transparent about its grantmaking habits. Its annual Worldwide Giving Report provides information on the general distribution of funds, while information on certain specific initiatives can be found on the relevant focus area’s page. For more information on ExxonMobil’s giving areas and recent recipients, check out its most recent Worldwide Giving Report, found on the corporation’s Worldwide Giving home page.

There is no open application process, as the foundation “chooses to work with community organizations with which we have established or proactively developed relationships,” and “does not seek and rarely funds unsolicited grant applications and project proposals.”


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