MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions Grant Guidelines

Understand guideline and funding cycles

MacArthur publishes program guidelines to help applicants determine whether their idea for a grant fits within a particular grantmaking strategy.

As a general rule, applicants should base this decision on three related criteria that appear in program guidelines: the topical focus addressed by the grantmaking strategy; the geographic area covered by the grantmaking strategy; and, finally, the type of funding (i.e., general operating support, research, program support, etc.) that supports the grantmaking strategy.

Like most strategic grantmaking foundations, the MacArthur Foundation considers funding only those applications that closely match the topical, geographic, and funding criteria for a specific grantmaking strategy.


The Foundation does not seek or accept external nominations for this award.


Each year MacArthur makes grants to exceptional organizations that are key contributors to fields that are core to the Foundation's work. These organizations generate provocative ideas, reframe the debate, or provide new ways of looking at persistent problems. Some are particularly effective at delivering services or challenging old paradigms.

A significant investment in such promising organizations can contribute to progress on an issue or in an area of work, and can also help position these organizations for long-term growth and impact.

Awards are made to organizations that are key to their fields and to the Foundation's goals for those fields, exhibit strong leadership and governance, have demonstrated impact that is likely to continue into the future, and are ready to implement a plan for expansion or sustainability – not just of the programs but of the organization itself.

 Award winning organizations receive one-time institution-building grants of between $350,000 and $2.5 million depending on the size of the organization.