About the Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation believes that a carefully reasoned and systematic understanding of the forces of nature and society, when applied inventively and wisely, can lead to a better world for all. The Foundation makes grants to support original research and broad-based education related to science, technology, and economic performance; and to improve the quality of American life. Though founded in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan Jr., then-President and CEO of General Motors, the Foundation is an independent entity and has no formal relationship with the General Motors Corporation.
The Foundation is unique in its focus on science, technology, and economic institutions. It believes the scholars and practitioners who work in these fields are chief drivers of the nation’s health and prosperity. In each grant program, the Foundation seeks proposals for original projects led by outstanding individuals or teams.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is interested in projects that it expects will result in a strong benefit to society, and for which funding from the private sector, the government, or other foundations is not widely available.
The following initiatives are among those funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation:
- The Sloan Research Fellowships - This program seeks to recognize the achievements of outstanding young scholars in science, mathematics, economics and computer science. Past recipients of Sloan Research Fellowships have gone on to win 38 Nobel prizes, 14 Fields Medals (mathematics), and eight John Bates Clark awards (economics).
- The Sloan Digital Sky Survey - The Foundation has provided core support for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which uses a specialized telescope in New Mexico to perform research to improve understanding of the evolution of the universe. The telescope is also used to further analyze the quantitative basis for dark energy.
- The Census of Marine Life - This effort, involving top international marine scientists and research laboratories, measures the abundance, diversity and migration patterns of all known species of marine life. In the course of this research, more than 5,000 new species of marine life have been identified.
- The Encyclopedia of Life – A joint effort with the MacArthur Foundation, this program endeavors to build a reliable online encyclopedia with a Web page for every known species on earth.
- Public Understanding of Science and Technology - This program focuses on educating the public about science and technology. It includes support for films, television, radio, books, and plays. One grant, to the Metropolitan Opera of New York, supported the High Definition distribution of a live performance of the opera Dr. Atomic to hundreds of theaters around the country; the grant also funded the production of educational materials and seminars. Another grant was made to Nova in support of a television program about Charles Darwin to be broadcast in 2009. The broadcast marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species and the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. In addition, substantial grants are made to support science and news programming on public broadcasting television stations and on National Public Radio.
- Education and Careers in Science and Technology - The Foundation has long supported students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). One area of focus supports research on the factors that affect STEM career choices. The Foundation additionally provides fellowship funds to encourage underrepresented minorities to pursue STEM careers. The Foundation created the Professional Science Masters (PSM) degree, which has led to the diffusion of PSM programs around the country. A report by the National Academy of Sciences praised the Foundation’s efforts in this area and urged federal and state governments to expand support for PSM degree programs.
- Workplace, Work Force and Working Families - Foundation efforts over more than a decade have been instrumental in increasing public understanding of working families and creating a social movement to address the challenges they face. With the explosion of dual-earner households, society is undergoing a major, and previously unexamined, social and economic change. Through the years the Foundation charted a dramatically new direction for both scholarship and advocacy. Its funding has supported work-family research, initiatives to expand workplace flexibility, and outreach to mobilize the nation.
- Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics - This program identifies the best New York City high school science and mathematics teachers, recognizes their achievements with seven awards per year, and develops a Web site to disseminate their teaching materials and techniques around the country.
- Information Technology and the Dissemination of Knowledge – This broad-based effort seeks to increase public access to information by encouraging digitization of materials in the public domain, developing public archives of digital material, and fostering the availability of books on demand. One grant to Wikipedia supports the development of a strategy to improve the quality of the information available on its Web sites.
- Economic Institutions, Behavior and Performance - The Foundation is developing a new program focused on the structure, behavior, performance, and regulation of firms, markets, and related institutions. Initially, this program will tackle issues associated with financial markets, regulatory mechanisms to improve market performance, health care financing and management, corporate governance, and energy markets.