Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Foundation's funding priorities?

The Foundation strives to fund endeavors that are distinctive and novel in their approach. It encourages projects that are high-risk with the potential for transformative impact. "High-risk" comprises a number of factors, including questions that push the edge of the field, present unconventional approaches to intractable problems, or challenge the prevailing paradigm. In all our programs, "transformative" may mean creation of a new field of research, development of new instrumentation enabling observations not previously possible, or discovery of knowledge that challenges prevailing perspectives. In addition to the above, in the Southern California Program, transformative may also mean positioning an organization for growth and adaptability. Applicants may find it helpful to look over the abstracts of recent grants for understanding funding priorities. Grant abstracts may be found on our website within the particular program of interest.

Do you give grants to individuals?

No, the Foundation only makes grants to eligible institutions.

How do I determine if my organization is eligible to apply for a grant?

For a complete list of eligibility requirements for each program area, please click on the following links:

Research Program

Southern California Program

The Foundation no longer accepts Undergraduate Education Program grant applications.  We support Undergraduate Education only through transformative special projects.

Do you give grants outside the United States?

No, the Foundation restricts its grantmaking to organizations located within the United States.

Can a research collaborator be funded outside of the United States?

Yes, but only a maximum of 10% of the requested amount can be paid to a collaborator outside the United States.

Do you give grants to organizations outside California?

The Foundation's Research Program funds projects nationwide. The Southern California Program restricts grants to organizations headquartered in Southern California that serve communities in Los Angeles County or national or statewide organizations that (a) have an independent affiliate, or (b) a local chapter or local office with program staff based in Los Angeles County.

Do you fund capital projects?

Not in the Research Program. However, the Southern California Program currently does fund capital projects.

What do you specifically not fund?

For a complete list of projects not eligible for funding in each program area, please click on the following links:

Research Program

Southern California Program

Do you give grants for general operating support?

No, the Foundation does not make grants for general operating support.

Do you sponsor events or dinners?

No.

Does the Foundation provide scholarship or fellowship grants?

No, the Foundation does not accept applications for grants to individuals or to endowments for scholarships or fellowships.

Do I have to contact Foundation staff prior to submitting a request?

Research Program

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Foundation staff during the pre-application counseling period, which takes place between January 1 and February 15 leading up to a May 1 Phase I submission, or between July 1 and August 15 leading up to a November 1 Phase I submission.  Potential applicants are encouraged to submit their ideas for grants in the form of single-page concept papers during the pre-application counseling period.  Consultations are scheduled on a first come, first served basis during the pre-application counseling period.  For more information about deadlines, please see our Grant Cycle Timeline.

Initial contact from a multi-unit organization (such as a college, university or agency branch location) must be coordinated through the institution's central development office. Most colleges and universities have designated an official liaison to the Foundation. Other personnel contacting the Foundation will be referred to the central liaison.

Southern California Program

The Southern California Program’s Concept Review process provides the opportunity to confirm your organization’s eligibility and receive feedback from Foundation staff. While participation in the Concept Review is not a prerequisite for applying to the Southern California Program, it is strongly encouraged. The Concept Review process starts in the W. M. Keck Foundation online portal. The portal is open for this process from October 1 until November 15 for our June grant cycle and from April 1 until May 15 for our December grant cycle.

How often can I apply for a grant?

Applicants may submit one Phase I application online per grant cycle to each of the following areas for which they are eligible: Medical Research, Science and Engineering Research, and Southern California.

Are there deadlines for applications? If so, what are the dates?

Research Program

Yes. Deadlines for Phase I applications are 4:30pm (PT) on May 1 to be considered for the December grant cycle, and 4:30pm (PT) on November 1 to be considered for the June grant cycle. If either date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline is 4:30pm (PT) the following Monday.

Submission of Phase II proposals is by invitation only. The deadlines for invited proposals are 4:30pm (PT) on February 15 for consideration at our June board meeting, and by 4:30 pm (PT) on August 15 for consideration at our December board meeting. If either date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline is 4:30 p.m. (PT) on the following Monday.

The Foundation encourages earlier submissions for both Phase I and Phase II.

See the Grant Cycle Timeline for additional information.

Southern California Program

Yes.  Deadlines for Southern California Program's applications are 4:30pm (PT) on January 5 to be considered for the June grant cycle, and 4:30pm (PT) on July 5 to be considered for the December grant cycle. If either date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline is 4:30pm (PT) the following Monday.  The Foundation encourages earlier submissions.

See the Grant Cycle Timeline for additional information..

May I send an application by fax, email or mail?

No.  The Foundation only accepts submissions online via the applicant portal.

Does your staff conduct site visits so we can present our project?

Research Program

Yes. If an applicant is invited to submit a Phase II Proposal, staff may, at their discretion, conduct a site visit or conference call to gain additional information about the program or project.

Southern California Program

The Southern California Program's Site Visit is by invitation only.  After review of your completed application we will notify you whether or not you are invited to a Site Visit.

When are grants made?

Grants are approved at the Foundation's board meetings in June and December.

What is the average size and duration of your grants?

The average size and duration of grants varies by project and program area.

Research grants range from $500,000 to $5 million, and are typically $2 million or less. Duration of grants ranges from one to five years.  

Southern California grants range from $100,000 to $1 million, but typically are under $500,000.  Only multi-year grants are considered and requests under $100,000 and over $1 million will not be considered.

The Foundation no longer accepts Undergraduate Education Program grant applications.  We support Undergraduate Education only through transformative special projects initiated by the Board of Directors.

How many grants are made each year?

The number of grants made varies each year.

Can I request a no cost extension?

No cost extensions can be approved at the discretion of Foundation staff. See the For Grantees section of our website for additional information.

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