Sarah Scaife Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Founded by the late conservative billionaire philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife, the Sarah Scaife Foundation has funded a number of think tanks and public policy organizations. While much of the foundation's grantmaking funds free-market think tanks and policy institutes, its higher education grantmaking often supports policy-related scholarship and research.

IP TAKE: The foundation maintains a bare-bones site, which restricts information about its grantmaking strategies and concerns. However, it accepts LOIs. Scaife boasts hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, which are expected to grow significantly as a result of organizational restructuring.

PROFILE: The Sarah Scaife Foundation is one of several philanthropic vehicles associated with the late Richard Mellon Scaife. Its adopted its present name in 1974, and focuses on conservative policy issues. According to its website, the foundation’s grants are “primarily directed toward public policy programs that address major domestic and international issues” with “no geographical restrictions.”

The foundation’s higher education grantmaking is broad and largely undefined. However, its conservative grantmaking often benefits higher education work in public policy, law, and economics research. The Scaife Foundation's annual list of grantees includes a long list of public policy outfits, including the American Enterprise Institute, the American Foreign Policy Council, the Claremont Institute for the Study of StatesmanshCarnegie Mellon University (toward public policy studies), the Missouri State University Foundation (toward the school's Department of Defense and Strategic Studies), Princeton University's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the University of Chicago's Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. On a smaller scale, Scaife has also funded the University of Kentucky's Albert B. Chandler Hospital Auditorium, and Scaife’s alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh.

Grants typically range from $100,000 to $500,000. The foundation accepts proposals year round, but meets only four times a year to discuss them. Interested grantseekers should peruse the foundation’s annual reports to see if they fit in with its typical recipients.


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