The Kresge Foundation Concludes Science Initiative
TROY, MICHIGAN – The Kresge Foundation announced today the completion of its Science Initiative, which was launched in 1988 to address a nationwide shortage of up-to-date science equipment in the laboratories of four-year colleges and universities, teaching hospitals, medical schools, and independent research institutions. Over its nearly twenty years of operation, the Initiative awarded 146 grants totaling more than $53 million dollars.
“When we began the program,” noted Elizabeth Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Programs, “we had relatively modest ambitions, thinking that it might benefit two or three dozen institutions. Not only has it exceeded our quantitative expectations, it has also institutionalized the very basic, but critical, idea that equipment purchases should be accompanied by permanent endowments to support the maintenance and replacement of that equipment.”
Several studies in the late 1980s by education associations, the National Science Foundation, and a White House commission signaled that American teaching and research labs had fallen into obsolescence, threatening their ability to recruit top faculty, researchers, and research grants, and discouraging talented undergraduates from choosing science majors. Although Kresge’s program was part of a wide response by philanthropic organizations of every size across the country, The Chronicle of Philanthropy wrote that Kresge’s Science Initiative was “one of the most ambitious.” The Kresge program stood apart from other programs, in part, because of the Foundation’s challenge grant condition that recipients raise twice the total cost of the equipment to fund a permanent endowment for the equipment’s maintenance and replacement.
“The context has changed dramatically in twenty years,” Sullivan observed. “There is undisputedly still a need. But the need is being met in a vastly expanded number of ways by an ever expanding source of funds. We are proud to have helped get the ball rolling and equally proud to have ensured that in so many schools and research institutions our dollars have helped put in place endowments that will make certain the availability of safe, up-to-date equipment well into the future.” When the challenge requirements of all the grant recipients in this Initiative have been met, over $164 million in endowment funds will be in place, providing approximately $8.2 million in aggregate annual income to repair and maintain the equipment.
A wide range of organizations and equipment was supported in this Initiative as illustrated by the following examples:
- $500,000 grant to Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, Maryland to purchase brain imaging equipment for research on pediatric spinal cord injuries and paralysis and to create a $1,250,000 endowment.
- $200,000 grant to Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa to purchase scientific equipment for undergraduate analytical and physical chemistry laboratories and to create a $550,000 endowment.
- $500,000 grant to Stroud Water Research Center, Avondale, Pennsylvania to purchase scientific equipment for research on river ecosystems and to create a $1,250,000 endowment.
- $500,000 grant to Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina to purchase computer equipment for mathematics and computer science teaching programs and to create a $1,250,000 endowment.
- $240,000 grant to Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington to purchase scientific equipment for chemistry and physics departments and to create a $600,000 endowment.
The Kresge Foundation was established in 1924 by Sebastian S. Kresge to promote human progress. Headquartered just outside of Detroit, Michigan, the Foundation had 2006 year-end assets of $3.3 billion and awarded approximately $150 million in grants in 2006 to organizations in the United States, Great Britain, South Africa, and Mexico.