Originally founded by Edsel Ford, the Ford Foundation is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world. Although it once held 90% of the shares of Ford Motor Company following Henry Ford’s death in 1947, it sold off ownership of the automotive business by the mid seventies and no longer has any direct affiliation with the former manufacturing business which shares its name. The foundation calls New York City home and operates ten additional international field offices.
Ford Foundation holds an endowment of almost $11 billion and from that issues between $400 to $500 million in grants annually. Over the years it has made some high-profile grants offering significant support to public broadcasting including the funding that helped to create Sesame Street. It assisted with the creation of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. It started supporting the fight against AIDS in 1987 and continues that work today with grant support of around $30 million annually.
While it has occasionally supported Fellowship Programs, the foundation very rarely award grants to individuals. Instead it offers the vast majority of its grant making to organizations aligned with its core areas of focus. Grant awards range from several thousand up to millions of dollars in funding and total around 1,400 annual grants. The Ford Foundation’s current campaign focuses on eight major social justice issues. These are democratic and accountable government, economic fairness, educational opportunity, freedom of expression, human rights, metropolitan opportunity, sexuality and reproductive rights and sustainable development.
To apply for a Ford Foundation Grant, you should first review the Ford Foundation issues on the foundation website and familiarize yourself with the initiatives most aligned to your organization’s work. You should also read the foundation’s grant application PDF. If you feel your organization performs work consistent with that of the foundation, please submit a grant inquiry via the foundation website to start the grants process. You should note that while the foundation welcomes unsolicited inquires, due to the high number of requests received each year and its obligations to current grant programs that less than 1% of applications typically receive grant funding through this process.