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The Private Higher Education Program Area supports colleges and universities that prioritize undergraduate education and emphasize the liberal arts. The Foundations provide grants directly to private colleges and universities as well as to consortia that support those institutions in their educational mission.

As a graduate of Amherst College, Arthur Vining Davis experienced first-hand the value of a liberal arts education. The broad training that he received as a student equipped him to play a number of roles during his career: scientific innovator, corporate entrepreneur, real estate developer, and orchid farmer, to name just a few. His recognition of the transformative impact of liberal learning led him to give regularly to numerous private colleges and universities, and to encourage his Foundations to continue to provide this support.

Although the Foundations fund a variety of programs in higher education, grants typically support projects that improve student outcomes or enhance faculty leadership. The Foundations do not provide grants to support capital projects or endowment.

Request Amounts

Private Higher Education grants typically range from $25,000 to $300,000, although the Foundations will entertain larger requests. Grants may support projects that span multiple years.

Civil Discourse Grant Applicants

The Foundations support several evidence-based programs that help students to improve in the skills needed for civil discourse across difference. Applicants seeking grants that will focus primarily on students should review the work of the Constructive Dialogue Institute, while those interested in faculty training programs should review the work of the Greater Good Science Center and Duke University’s Civil Discourse Project. Applicants looking to support campus wide civil discourse programming should review the report Campus Free Expression: A New Roadmap from the Bipartisan Policy Center. We recommend, in addition, that all applicants in this area review the recommendations provided here.

Project Evaluation

For projects that involve an intervention or program intended to improve a measurable outcome, a Full Proposal will require an evaluation plan that is overseen by a qualified evaluator. In cases where applicants do not have a qualified evaluator available to them, the Foundations can provide guidance on how to engage a qualified evaluator.