Intellectual Property

Information about intellectual property arising out of the use of Foundation funds.


Foundation grants often result in tangible products, such as reports, papers, research, software, data sets, curriculum, books, film or television documentaries, or radio programs (“Grant Work Product”). This policy articulates the principles guiding the Foundation’s approach to the ownership and use of Grant Work Product. It addresses specifically the ownership, use, copyright to, distribution and licensing of the Grant Work Product arising from project grants by balancing the interests of the Foundation with the interests of the grantee and other interested parties.

Recipients of general operating support grants are expected to have policies in place reasonably consistent with the underlying philosophy and principles reflected in this Policy.

The Foundation is cognizant that fast-evolving technological advances are impacting the manner and method by which knowledge in whatever form can be protected and distributed and the Foundation will evaluate this policy in light of this understanding. The attached glossary defines certain underscored terms used in this policy. A guidance memorandum that provides further detail on the Foundation’s approach to specific issues accompanies this policy and will be revised from time-to-time as appropriate.


The Foundation's policy is to ensure that use of the Grant Work Product furthers charitable purposes and benefits the public. To that end, the Foundation seeks prompt and broad dissemination or availability of the Grant Work Product at minimal cost to the public or, when justified, at a reasonable price. Distribution at a reasonable price may be justified when integral to the business plan and sustainability of a charitable organization or when the Foundation is satisfied that net revenues derived from the distribution will be used for charitable purposes.

  • Grant Work Product should, whenever feasible, be licensed under a Creative Commons license appropriate for the circumstances or other similar scheme that provides for wide distribution or access to the public.
  • Software created with grant funds should be ordinarily licensed under an open source license.
  • The Foundation also expects openness in research and freedom of access to research results and, when feasible, to the underlying data by persons with a serious interest in the research. This means that grant-funded impact studies should generally be registered in a field-appropriate registry, preferably before data are collected or at least before statistical analyses are performed.

The Foundation recognizes there may be circumstances where limited or delayed dissemination of Grant Work Product, delayed or non-registration of impact studies, or limited or delayed access to data may be appropriate to protect legitimate interests of the grantee, other funders, principal investigators or participants in research studies. Such circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

We will apply these same general principles to our contract-funded evaluation work and make the relevant information available under our Policy on Information Sharing.

Ownership of intellectual property rights (including copyright and patent rights) should not be used to limit or deny access to the Grant Work Product, to result in exclusive use of such Grant Work Product, or to create revenue that is not used substantially for charitable purposes. Copyright to or patent rights in the Grant Work Product will ordinarily remain with the grantee, but the Foundation will be granted a no-cost assignable license to use or publish the Grant Work Product consistent with this Policy. The Foundation may forego or limit the requirement of a license if the Foundation is reasonably satisfied that other appropriate arrangements will be implemented that will assure the goals of this policy.

In all instances, the Foundation will agree to suitable terms at the time a grant is made based on the facts to ensure the objectives of the policy are met while respecting appropriate interests of others. This policy was initially adopted September 18, 2008. It was revised on September 10, 2015 and applies to grants awarded after that date.


Creative Commons License: A license that allows creators of intellectual property to retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work — at least non-commercially.

Data: All materials created during the research process including raw data and metadata required to replicate and assess the trustworthiness of reported findings in their entirety.

Open Source License: A license that allows software or other products to be used, modified, and shared under defined terms and conditions.

Registry: An access point for collaborators, other scholars, students, and the interested public that provides links to data sets, survey instruments, impact studies, and experimental protocols. The purpose is to enhance the transparency and quality of research/evaluations studies funded by foundations.

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