Keck Foundation Grant – DUE: Rolling

Tomodachi Initiative Grants – DUE: Rolling
August 13, 2018
VentureWell Faculty Grants – DUE: 11-7-18
August 15, 2018

The W. M. Keck Foundation was founded with the goal of generating far-reaching benefits for humanity. Following the ideals of our founder, the Foundation supports outstanding science, engineering and medical research, undergraduate education; and, in Southern California, arts and culture, education, health and community service projects that will have a significant impact in addressing complex issues and problems.

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.

To make grant determinations, the Foundation relies upon a wide range of input, including assessments by its professional staff, site visits (where appropriate), peer reviews, the latest available scientific information, and presentations by experts in scientific, medical and health and human service fields.

Research Program

Supporting pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research has been our mandate from the beginning. By funding the high-risk/high-impact work of leading researchers, we are laying the groundwork for new paradigms, technologies and discoveries that will save lives, provide innovative solutions, and add to our understanding of the world. Both Senior and Early Career investigators are encouraged to apply.

Undergraduate Education Program

We believe that a high-quality, well-rounded college education is vital for tomorrow’s workforce and leaders. The Foundation’s undergraduate program promotes distinctive learning and research experiences in science, engineering and the liberal arts at undergraduate colleges only in Foundation designated states, or through national organizations that address undergraduate needs.

Southern California Program

The Southern California Program seeks to promote the education and healthy development of children and youth, strengthen families and enhance the lives of people in the greater Los Angeles area through its support of organizations that provide arts and cultural enrichment, civic and community services, early childhood and pre-collegiate education, and health care. Projects that address compelling issues and have the potential to have a significant impact on the target population, organization, region and/or field are encouraged. A special emphasis is placed on projects that focus on children and youth from low-income families, special needs populations and safety-net services. Collaborative initiatives as well as projects arising from the vision of one organization’s strong leadership are supported. Nonprofit organizations, including colleges and universities, pursuing relevant projects in Los Angeles County are eligible to apply.

Please note that the Foundation does not make grants to institutions outside the United States or to individuals.

Eligibility & Priorities

Research universities, medical colleges and major private independent scientific and medical research institutes are eligible to apply to the Research Program.

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 must also be 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.  The declaration must specify:

  • the federal, state or local laws pursuant to which the organization is created and governed;
  • 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);
  • that the organization is legally and financially responsible for its debts; and
  • 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.

The Foundation takes into account the management and fiscal condition of an institution when reviewing an institution for eligibility.

If you are submitting a collaborative project, the lead institution must be identified and all members must meet the Foundation’s eligibility requirements.  On a case by case basis, we may request that other members of the collaborative also submit additional documentation.

Please feel free to contact the Foundation in advance to check eligibility and tax requirements.


Not Eligible for Funding

  • General operating expenses, endowments or deficit reduction
  • General and federated campaigns, including fundraising events, dinners or mass mailings
  • Grants to individuals
  • Conference or seminar sponsorship
  • Book publication and film or theater productions
  • Public policy research
  • Institutions that are located outside the United States
  • Institutions that do not have a tax-exempt ruling from the federal government and (if located in California) the State of California, or if a government unit, do not have a signed Declaration of Status
  • Institutions that do not have at least three consecutive full, certified, audited financial statements
  • “Conduit” organizations, unified funds or organizations that use grant funds from donors to support other organizations or individuals
  • Institutions that are subsidiaries or affiliates of larger entities that do not have a separate board of directors and independent audited financial statements


Program Priorities

Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects in research that:

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
  • Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem
  • Does not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials or research for the sole purpose of drug development
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

Application Process and Overview

The W. M. Keck Foundation employs a two-phase application process. Applicants must follow the process carefully to avoid disqualification. Grants are awarded twice annually, in June and December. Only applications that reflect institutional priorities as certified by the applicant’s President/Chief Executive Officer will be considered.

Initial Contact

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 via the designated institutional liaison. Most colleges and universities have designated an official liaison to the Foundation. Other personnel contacting the Foundation will be referred to the designated liaison.

If you are a new institution/applicant applying to the Foundation, please do so through your central development office via the designated institutional liaison and make sure to submit all the required tax and audit documentation listed on the Eligibilities and Priorities page along with the concepts you wish to discuss.

To schedule a conference call, please send your concept papers, project descriptions or project titles to to help us determine our most appropriate staff for your call. If you are not able to submit your concept papers at the time of your request, you should do so at least three days before your call.

General Rules

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.

Phase I application submissions are due by 4:30pm (PT) in order to be considered on deadline days (see our Grant Cycle Timeline).  If a deadline falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline is 4:30pm (PT) on the following Monday.  Applicants will not be able to submit Phase I applications after the deadline.  We appreciate early submissions.

At any phase of the application process, an institution may request a withdrawal of its application without prejudice to future requests.

The Foundation will notify those applicants that are invited to submit a Phase II proposal.  Please do not contact the Foundation to check on the status of an application or proposal.  No inquiries regarding Phase I or Phase II submissions will be entertained in the interim.  All Phase I applications and Phase II proposals take approximately four weeks to process and formally acknowledge.  Unsolicited Phase II proposals are not accepted at any time.


*Applicant means “Applicant/Applying Institution”

Please select a Phase below:

Research Program (which includes the two areas of (1) Medical Research and (2) Science and Engineering Research)
Phase I Application
Phase II Proposal