Learn About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic organization based in the United States. It was founded by former CEO of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan Jr. The organization has traditionally provided grants and assistance for education related to business and economics. In more recent years it has also provided assistance for science and technology research as well as endowing arts and civics initiatives.


The foundation was created in 1934 when Sloan was the president and CEO of General Motors. Sloan was an active philanthropist as well as an industrial innovator, and the foundation was established to provide large grants for business and economics. For example, in 1956 the foundation provided Friz Freleng and Warner Bros. with grants to create pro-capitalist movies starring Looney Toons characters.

During his presidency the foundation also began to provide assistance for science and technology research and education. From this came several prominent programs and fellowships, including the MIT Sloan Fellowships in Executive Development, Science Research Fellowships and the Alfred Sloan National Scholarship Project.

Under Sloan’s control, the foundation also laid the groundwork for two large institutions that still operate today: MIT’s Alfred Sloan School of Business Management and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Both received significant grants from the foundation and have become leading centers in their respective fields.

When Sloan died in 1966, the foundation continued to give hundreds of grants for science and technology research and also pursued new directions in their grant making. Through this reorganization the foundation helped to provide major assistance to the fledgling fields of neuroscience and cognitive science.

The foundation also began providing grants for journalism; its goal being to have newspapers and magazines report on important business and economic issues. This later expanded to reporting on science and technology.

In the last two decades, the foundation has spent considerable resources on science and technology innovation as well as researching and improving economic conditions in the United States and the developing world.


The foundation is overseen by a president and vice president who control the board of trustees. Many of the trustees are either prominent members of industry or academic researchers. There are three separate committees responsible for investments, audits and executive duties.

The foundation has nearly $2 billion in assets and their grants are broken up into six broad categories, called major program areas.

  • Basic Research: This program provides grants and funding for research in engineering, mathematics, science and technology that promises major benefits to society or contributes to the growth of scientific knowledge. Programs have included digital sky mapping and species identification.
  • STEM Higher Education: The foundation believes that scientists, researchers and scholars are a key driver of economic prosperity, and the STEM program provides funding to promote scientific enterprise and encourage careers in entrepreneurial science.
  • Public Understanding of Science and Technology: Through the use of media, such as radio, television and Internet, the foundation seeks to provide the public with a deeper and richer understanding of how science and technology affect daily life.
  • Economic Performance and Quality of Life: Through grants the foundation encourages theory-based empirical research to study how economics affects quality of life. Key subjects include understanding how industries function, coordinating better communication between citizens and government and exploring the difficulties that working families face.
  • Select National Issues: Unlike the other areas of interest, the select issues focuses on how subjects other than science, education and technology can be explored to promote better understanding of how issues like biosecurity affect the world.
  • Civic Initiatives: The Sloan Foundation is housed in New York City and one of its special missions is to provide assistance for the unique problems facing the New York metropolitan area.

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