Once the largest philanthropic organization in the world, the Ford Foundation was established in 1936 with $25,000 from Edsel Ford, son of automobile pioneer Henry Ford to advance scientific, educational and charitable causes. For 80 years it has advanced pioneering programs in the areas of civil rights, education, arts and culture, urban development, and poverty reduction. Still a major international funding agency, those with innovative ideas to move their communities forward should have this foundation on their radar.
A Focus on Inequality
The Ford Foundation believes that social, economic and political inequality is the defining challenge of our time. Its funding priorities are broken up into seven focus areas that can effectively mitigate inequities:
- Civic Engagement and Government
- Creativity and Free Expression
- Equitable Development
- Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice
- Inclusive Economies
- Internet Freedom
- Youth Opportunity and Learning
Selected Examples of Past Winners
The Ford Foundation has a database of all grants it has awarded since 2006. Here are a few examples:
- Native American Rights Funds - to advocate for the rights of Native Americans in the areas of tribal sovereignty, human rights, and the environment.
- Foundation for Louisiana - to mitigate inequalities in affordable housing and other economic opportunities in New Orleans as well as assist with 2016 flood recovery efforts.
- Fund for the City of New York - to enable the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform to find ways to reduce the city's inmate population.
- Allied Media Projects, Inc. - to help the Detroit Community Technology Project's Equitable Internet Initiative assist residents of Detroit gain access to digital technologies and the economic opportunities they provide.
- Carnegie Hall Musical Connections - to provide musical training to inmates at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility.
- Center for Land Reform, Inc - to facilitate community capacity to rehabilitate blighted and problem properties.
- Community Solutions - to develop new approaches for public housing.
- Crisis Text Hotline - to take advantage of current technology to reach out to youth in need of mental health intervention.
- Grant Managers Network, Inc. - To strengthen the role of grant management for more efficient and effective philanthropy.
Applying for a Ford Foundation Grant
Eligible applicants include Native American tribes, state and local governments, academic institutions, schools/school districts, nonprofits, the private sector and consortia. Mandatory idea submissions are accepted on a rolling basis and must be submitted online. If they are interested in learning more about your program, they will respond to you within 45 days.