Discovery Grants are awarded for exceptionally creative or innovative projects with high potential impact, but which do not fit into the Foundation's existing programs and strategies.

Discovery Grants are identified and selected by a cross-program group of foundation staff and outside advisors, and awarded to promising but unproven approaches to important social problems.

Generally, Discovery Grants:

  • address important social issues where the Foundation can have an impact
  • respond to timely opportunities
  • promise outcomes that can be assessed
  • are ambitious
  • demonstrate awareness of future trends and needs

Grants are not restricted to a particular set of topics, but they must address an important social issue outside of one of the Foundation’s areas of grantmaking. Grants are one time, typically for no more than two years, with amounts ranging from $15,000 to $500,000. Grants are awarded based on the recommendation of the Discovery Grants Committee, which is drawn from across the foundation and holds meetings open to all MacArthur staff roughly ten times per year.

Questions may be sent to


Updated March 2015


Portrait of Cecilia A. Conrad

Cecilia A. Conrad

Managing Director
Portrait of Jeff Ubois

Jeff Ubois

Program Officer