Information for Grantseekers

What We Fund

We aim to be transparent about how we operate. Therefore, we feel it is important to be clear to grantseekers that most of our grantmaking is dedicated to furthering strategies with specific program goals. Therefore, we generally do not fund unsolicited proposals.


Although very few are selected for funding, we review unsolicited proposals that meet our guidelines. Before submitting a proposal, we recommend that you carefully read our grant guidelines, which help applicants determine whether their idea for a grant fits a particular grantmaking strategy.


From time to time, we may announce an open call for proposals to advance specific program goals. In such instances, information will be available on our website.


100&Change, our competition for a single $100 million grant, is open to any proposed solution to any critical problem of our time. Nonprofit and qualifying for-profit organizations may apply. The competition cycle repeats every three years.


Please note that the MacArthur Fellows Program, which awards unrestricted grants to exceptionally creative individuals, does not accept applications or public nominations.


What We Do Not Fund

The Foundation does not provide funding for the following:

  • Scholarships or tuition assistance for undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate studies;
  • Grants to individuals, except for the MacArthur Fellows Program, which is not open to applications or public nominations;
  • Annual fundraising drives;
  • Paid advertisements; or
  • Political activities or attempts to influence action on specific legislation.

Grantmaking FAQs


What does MacArthur support?

MacArthur supports people and organizations working to address a variety of complex societal challenges. Our grants are generally long-term, strategic investments, focused on building evidence about what works and finding solutions to often intractable problems.

While some foundations work on a small number of issues, MacArthur is a multi-purpose, international foundation with grantmaking in multiple fields that are often inter-related. 

MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world's most pressing social challenges, including justice reform, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows program and 100&Change competition, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy; and to the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. MacArthur also makes small “X-grants” for existing grantees to take advantage of timely opportunities with greater speed and efficiency.

The Foundation provides support to grantees to address their indirect costs of operation. Learn more about our Indirect Cost Policy.


How do I know whether my project qualifies for a grant?

We generally do not fund unsolicited proposals; however, we do review them. If you are considering submitting a proposal, we recommend that you first carefully read our grant guidelines, which help applicants determine whether their idea for a grant fits one of our grantmaking strategies.

Learn more about our grant application process.


Do you make grants to individuals?

We do not currently make grants to individuals outside of the MacArthur Fellows program, which does not accept applications or public nominations.


Does the Foundation provide funding for educational expenses?

No. We do not provide funding for tuition or scholarships to cover educational expenses.


When can I expect a response from the Foundation?

The length of the review period for a proposal or letter of inquiry can vary depending on the nature of the project. You can expect a response to most letters of inquiry within 30 Days.


Does the Foundation ever request information from grant applicants or grantees other than through the Foundation’s Grant Management System?

No, the Foundation will not seek any personal or bank information other than through our established grant management system.

Unfortunately, scams claiming to be from or associated with foundations are growing in volume and, in many cases, can be quite sophisticated. Although MacArthur has not been targeted recently, it is important for the public to know that MacArthur does not:

  • Solicit personal information from individuals through letters or other communications or ask you to download files or other attachments in emails or text messages.
  • Request administrative fees for awarding a grant.
  • Host internet lotteries or offer prizes of any kind through e-mail, postal mail, telephone, fax, or in person.
  • Request registration fees for conferences or summits.
  • Request information about bank accounts or other private information.
  • Have memberships or request fees for memberships.
  • Approach individuals in person offering grant opportunities.
  • Solicit donations at any time.
  • Offer investment opportunities.

You should ignore any e-mails or other entreaties asking for any such information. MacArthur has a very specific process with our grantees and grant applications that uses secure means of collecting necessary information.

If you have any questions regarding our processes or whether a communication is genuine or wish to report a scam, please contact us.

If you have received one of these scam communications, you may also report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the FBI.



Updated June 2021

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