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?

Organizations must be:

  • Exempt from federal taxation as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and be designated as:
    1. a public charity (and not a private foundation) as defined by Section 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2) or 170(b)(1)(A)(I-VI) of the Internal Revenue Code; or
    2. an exempt operating foundation as defined by Section 4940(d)(2).
    3. No grants will be made to private foundations (other than exempt operating foundations) or 509(a)(3) organizations.
  • If the institution is located in the State of California, the organization must also be exempt from California State Franchise or Income Tax under Section 23701(d) of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

Organizations must be able to provide current full, certified, audited financial statements prepared on an annual basis in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.  If in existence less than five years, the organization must be able to provide at least two consecutive full, certified, audited financial statements prepared on an annual basis.

Organizations must also be able to provide the most recently filed complete Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), including Public Charity Status and Public Support (Schedule A).  If an exempt operating foundation, the organization also must able to provide the most recently filed complete Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF) rather than Form 990.

If the organization is a government unit as defined by Section 170(b)(1)(A)(v) and (c)(1) and, therefore, does not receive a determination letter as to such organization’s tax exempt classification from the Internal Revenue Service, such organization must submit a Declaration of Status signed by the organization's chief executive or president and by its chief legal officer.  Such declaration must specify:

  1. the federal, state or local laws pursuant to which the organization is created and governed;
  2. whether the organization also is a (a) school as defined by Section 170(b)(1)(A)(ii), (b) hospital or medical research institute as defined by Section 170(b)(1)(A)(iii) or (c) other organization described in Section 170(b);
  3. that the organization is legally and financially responsible for its debts; and
  4. that the organization is not a non-operating private foundation within the meaning of Section 509.

Grant agreements will be deemed to have been entered into in the County of Los Angeles, State of California; and, California law will apply to the interpretation and enforcement of the grant provisions.

If the organization is part of a group that received a determination letter as to the group’s tax exempt classification from the Internal Revenue Service, the organization must provide the determination letter that identifies the organization as part of the group.  The organization must also provide an attestation as to the continued group status of the organization.  The attestation must be signed by the organization’s chief executive or president and by its chief legal officer.  The Form 990 required for such organization may be the Form 990 of the group.

All tax-exempt documentation and audited financial statements must be in the same, current and full name of the qualifying organization or corresponding group.

Do you give grants outside the United States?

No, the Foundation restricts its grantmaking to organizations located within the contiguous 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 Undergraduate Education Program funds projects only in Foundation designated states, although organizations that address undergraduate needs at the national level are also eligible. 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 in Southern California that serves communities in Los Angeles County.

Do you fund capital projects?

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

What do you specifically not fund?

  • Routine institutional or general operating expenses, general endowments, deficit reduction, or general or administrative overhead expenses
  • General and federated campaigns, including fundraising events, dinners, or mass mailings
  • Support for conduit organizations, unified funds, or organizations that use grant funds from donors to support other organizations or individuals
  • Clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
  • Sponsorship of conferences or seminars, publication of books or the production of films or theater, and public policy research or activities of any kind
  • Student tuition or fees
  • In the Southern California Program, in addition to the above restrictions, funding is not considered for: organizations not having their headquarters in Southern California, or in the case of national or statewide organizations, not having an independent affiliate or local chapter or office located in Southern California that serves communities in Los Angeles County; support for organizations or projects to be undertaken outside Los Angeles County.

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?


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?

Applicants are strongly urged 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.

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, Undergraduate Education and Southern California.

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

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.  All deadlines are based on Pacific Time.

See the Grant Cycle Timeline for additional information.

May I send an application by fax or email?

The Foundation is moving to online submissions as of the November 1 Phase I application deadline and is not accepting hard copy or facsimile submissions.  Staff may also request additional information be sent to the Foundation via email. 

Note: Phase II proposal submissions for the August 15, 2017 deadline must be received in hard copy form. See the Phase II proposal pages for each program for instructions.

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

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.

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. Undergraduate Education grants range from $200,000 to $1 million, but are typically under $500,000. Southern California grants range from $100,000 to $1 million, but typically are under $500,000. Duration of grants ranges from one to five years.

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. A written justification should be received accompanied by a revised timetable and budget.

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