Major Program Areas
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants on seven broad subject matters, known within the Foundation as major program areas.
The 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. With its Basic Research program area, the Foundation expands that understanding by funding original, high-quality research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Grants in the Basic Research program area promise to substantively benefit society or significantly add to the body of scientific knowledge. By funding basic research, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has created a digital survey of the sky, is advancing species identification and discovery worldwide, and is crafting a better understanding of the built environment in which we live.
STEM Higher Education
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is unique among foundations in its focus on science and technology. We believe that the scholars and practicioners in scientific and technical fields are chief drivers of the nation's prosperity. Grants in the STEM Higher Education program area promote access to the scientific enterprise, provide information about scientific and technical careers, and encourage innovation to the structure of scientific training.
Public Understanding of Science, Technology, & Economics
This program seeks to bridge the two cultures—the humanities and the sciences—through support of books, radio, film, television, theatre, and new media to reach a wide, non-specialized audience. The program has supported books such as Eric Kandel’s The Age of Insight, and Richard Rhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb. The nationwide theatre program has supported works such as David Auburn’s Proof, and Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, about Rosalind Franklin. In film, the program has pioneered a film development pipeline of multiple program partners beginning with six film schools, through which Sloan is able to nurture and develop individual projects with different grants until they are successfully launched—in 2013 both Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess and Rob Meyer’s A Birder’s Guide to Everything premiered at festivals. The Foundation also has a robust radio and television program which supports original high quality programming across the country, and includes support of Radiolab and Science Friday, and supports television programs such as PBS’s The American Experience. Other support goes to innovative efforts such as the World Science Festival.
Digital Information Technology
This program seeks to better our understanding of the relationship between technology, information, and society, primarily through research on and the development of digital information technology for the conduct of scholarly research and public engagement with knowledge. Grantmaking in this program focuses on three distinct sub-areas: Data & Computational Research, Scholarly Communication, and the Universal Access to Knowledge.
Economic Performance and the Quality of Life
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation believes that a theory-based, empirically-tested understanding of the U.S. economy is essential to improving the American quality of life. The Foundation funds grants for high-quality original research that promise to broaden that understanding or use it to improve American institutions. Grants in the Economic Performance and Quality of Life program have expanded our knowledge of how particular industries function, encouraged better communication and cooperation between citizens and their local governments, and focused scholarly and public attention on the issues and challenges faced by contemporary working families.
Select National Issues
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognizes that there are select opportunities outside of science, education and economics in which it can create an important benefit to society. Its National Issues program area looks for unique opportunities where Foundation funds promise to advance a significant national interest. Grants in the Select National Issues program are funding work to increase America's biosecurity and investigate how recent advances in information technology affect the spread of knowledge and the structure of scientific endeavor.
Since its founding in 1934, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has been proud to call New York City home. With its Civic Initiatives program, the Foundation responds to unique opportunities to benefit the New York City metro area in ways that advance the Foundation's other interests in science, technology and economic performance. Grants in the Civic Initiatives program have founded awards to recognize exceptional public service and reward effective teaching of science and mathematics.