Program Areas

Program Area Descriptions

Foundations sometimes structure their grant giving to benefit specific causes, areas of concern, or program categories. 

To assist your grant research, here are brief descriptions of the major program categories that many of our foundations support. Foundations may be listed in several categories.

Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Foundations in this category support organizations and activities that enhance artistic development and expression in the visual and performing arts and educational programs whose purpose is the art form. It may also include support for the preservation of cultural histories and the advancement of a people's culture, with culture broadly defined as the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social group.


Foundations in this category support organizations and activities that contribute to the field of education by expanding access to learning. This category includes the following types of organizations: preschools, elementary and secondary schools, charter schools, vocational and technical schools, higher education institutions including colleges and universities, graduate and professional schools, adult education programs, libraries, scholarships and student financial aid programs, alumni associations, and parent-teacher groups.

Environment, Animals

These foundations support efforts that help maintain a healthy, natural environment through land-use planning, preservation, conservation, and restoration. Other areas of interest include global warming, renewable energy, biodiversity, recycling, and other environmental issues. This category also includes funding for efforts focused on the care, protection, or understanding of wildlife, pets, or specialty animals, as well as efforts focused on the preservation and protection of fisheries resources and wildlife habitats, humane societies, veterinary services, aquariums, and zoos.


Foundations interested in advancing health-related causes make grants to organizations and activities that improve the health of communities through medical education, research, public health policy, safety, prevention, and treatment.

Human Services

Foundations in this category support efforts that provide basic health, welfare, and other needs of a society or group, such as the poor, sick, or elderly. Examples of efforts supported within this category include those focused on crime and crime reduction; employment; food, agriculture, and nutrition; housing and shelter; public safety and disaster preparedness and relief; recreation and sports; and youth development.

International/Foreign Affairs

These foundations fund efforts that help to increase mutual understanding across countries, encourage social, economic, or political development outside of the U.S., or impact national, multilateral, or international policies on international issues.

Public/Society Benefit

Foundations in this category provide grants for community welfare efforts meant to improve the condition of the general population. Such efforts include government-provided services, social relief and public welfare programs, and civic service, with civic service referring to an organized engagement that contributes significantly to the local, national, or world community.


These foundations fund efforts concerned with worship, religious training or study, the governance or administration of organized religious groups, or the promotion of religious activities. This category does NOT include the support of other services operated under the auspices of specific religious groups such as educational institutions, hospitals, and social service agencies. Funding for such programs should be sought from foundations focused on those specific program areas.