Ford Foundation

Name of Foundation: Ford Foundation
Location: New York, New York
Contact Info: Phone: (212) 573 5000
Social Media:
Coverage Area: National and International
Subject Areas: Education, poverty, reproductive rights, gender equality, sustainable development, economic development, freedom of expression
Assets: $11.2 billion (2012)

Last Year Total Giving: $ 593.7 million  (2012)

In a nutshell:
Formed in 1936 by Edsel Ford, the daughter of Detroit-based industrialist Henry Ford, the Ford Foundation was originally designed to serve “scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare.” After World War II and the deaths of Edsel and Henry Ford, the foundation’s board of trustees clarified its goals and moved to New York City from Detroit. With a new focus on national and international philanthropy designed to advance human welfare rather than working in any particular field, the Ford Foundation became the nation’s largest philanthropy, dedicated to solving humankind’s most pressing problems with innovative and broad-ranging solutions.

Today, the Ford Foundation embraces an ambitious scope of work across the United States, and internationally in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Its mission is as follows: “The Ford Foundation supports visionary leaders and organizations on the frontlines of social change worldwide.” Its goals are consistent with its institutional priorities over the last half century: strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with a board of trustees. It is wholly independent from the Ford Motor Company.

The Ford Foundation is still headquartered in New York City, and under current President Darren Walker, with 10 regional offices around the world. The foundation makes grants in all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

The Ford Foundation’s primary interest in youth is largely tied to education and specifically through its work to promote equal educational opportunities for women and minorities and to eradicate sex discrimination at all educational levels. The foundation also supports innovative leaders and organizations that are dedicated to reducing poverty and injustice.

Major Programs:
Democratic and accountable government
Economic fairness
Educational opportunity and scholarship
Freedom of expression
Human rights
Metropolitan opportunity
Gender, sexuality and reproductive justice
Sustainable development

Application Process:
The Ford Foundation receives about 40,000 proposals every year and funds about 1,400 grants. All grant applications are reviewed at the organization’s headquarters in New York or at regional offices. The Ford Foundation provides the following types of grants: general/core support, project, planning, competition, matching, recoverable, individual, endowment, foundation-administered projects, and program-related investments.

To apply for a grant, review the foundation’s initiatives to find the one that best fits your program or project and read the guide to the application process, available at Most grants are for organizations, but the foundation makes a small number of grants to individuals, which are usually limited to fellowships for advanced study and do not include scholarships for undergraduate study. The Ford Foundation does not have submission deadlines; applications are considered year-round.

To start the application process, parties should submit a grant inquiry on the website at, including contact information, a brief description of the organization, a list of those who would carry out the project, a description of the purpose of the project and the issues it is intended to address, and an estimated project budget and time frame.

More information about past funded projects can be found in the grants database at An example of a recent project geared toward foster youth was a 2010 grant to the Public Health Institute and its Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development in Oakland, CA. As part of the Ford Foundation’s Sexuality and Reproductive Health and Rights program, the Public Health Institute is using the grant to explore the sexual and reproductive health and rights of foster youth and parent-adolescent communication.

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Jeremy Loudenback, Senior Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Jeremy Loudenback, Senior Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change 344 Articles
Jeremy is a West Coast-based senior editor for The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at