Higher Education Grant Program

Henry Luce Foundation

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Grant amount: US $30,000 - US $500,000

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: College / University

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program, Research

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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About this funder:



Note: Institutions interested in submitting a proposal should begin with a letter of inquiry. Full proposals should not be submitted unless invited.

Letters of inquiry may be submitted at any time by any eligible organization. However, the process of inquiry review and proposal development generally takes 3 or 4 months; and proposals are reviewed and approved by the Foundation’s Board only three times annually—in March, June, and November. Institutions should plan accordingly.


Higher education has been a focus of the Foundation’s grantmaking since the Foundation’s very first grant in 1936 to Yenching University in Beijing. Over half of all grant monies awarded since the Foundation’s establishment have been to higher education institutions.

Through its grants to colleges and universities, the Luce Foundation aims to advance three goals:

  • To stimulate and support scholarship, especially projects that break new ground and that cross disciplinary and geographic boundaries
  • To ensure that high-quality research, especially in the humanities and qualitative social sciences, informs policymaking and public discussion
  • To prepare the next generation of diverse scholars and academic leaders

Most of the grantmaking in support of these goals takes place through the Foundation’s thematic programs (such as American Art, Asia, Theology, or Clare Boothe Luce) or its special initiatives (like that on Religion in International Affairs). 


A limited number of grants are also awarded each year for higher education projects that advance the goals above but that fall outside the boundaries of its other programs. Those grants are made through the Higher Education Program.

Such grants have several characteristics:

  • They support projects in the humanities and qualitative social sciences (with one exception: projects that encourage diversity in certain STEM fields are also supported)
  • In general, they will support team-based projects or institutional initiatives rather than purely individual research projects
  • The projects they support will not only produce new knowledge but will also model new approaches to the production, dissemination and application of knowledge

Today, grantmaking in the Higher Education Program is focused on several particular strategies, as described below:

  • Encouraging new approaches to the dissemination of research outside of the academy—including to the general public or to particular communities of interest, like policymakers or practitioners
  • Facilitating collaboration, dialogue, or another kind of exchange or partnership between scholars and practitioners or policymakers
  • Facilitating and nurturing trans-disciplinary and trans-national research and training, especially across institutional boundaries and barriers of various kinds
  • Supporting dialogue and collaboration between US and non-US institutions about higher education goals and strategies, especially in order to strengthen non-US institutions and the higher education sector in other parts of the world
  • Supporting innovation in doctoral education, especially in ways that empower graduate students and equip them to thrive personally and professionally in the more challenging contemporary context
  • Eliminating obstacles to a diverse professoriate and administration, especially in the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics

The Higher Education Program welcomes excellent, innovative proposals from all kinds of institutions and organizations and encourages inquiries from those that are less well-resourced and/or that seek to serve disadvantaged or marginalized communities.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • An organization that has an active grant from one of the Foundation's programs should contact the program director before applying for a second grant from that same program. There is no prohibition against an organization with an active grant from one program applying for a grant from a different program.
  • Typically, grants are made to U.S. not-for-profit organizations or their international equivalents.


  • Grants are only made to institutions and cannot be made directly to individuals, with the sole exception of the Luce Scholars Program;
    • however, individuals may seek funding from Luce-supported programs administered by other organizations.
  • The Foundation does not support healthcare, medical, disaster relief, or international development projects.
  • The Foundation does not provide support to political parties or political campaigns, or for lobbying or other political activities.
  • The Foundation does not contribute to annual funds, fundraising events, endowments, or building campaigns.