The MacArthur Foundation in Nigeria

Questions about the MacArthur Foundation and its Grantmaking

Q: What is a foundation?
A: A foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports charitable activities in order to serve the common good. Foundations are often created with endowments – money given by individuals, families, or corporations – and generally make grants or operate programs with income earned from investing the endowments.

Q: Does the MacArthur Foundation receive funding from any government?
A: No. The Foundation is an independent, privately financed organization. It does not receive any funds from the U.S. government or from any other government.

Q: Where does the MacArthur Foundation get its money?
A: John MacArthur, a wealthy American businessman, filed letters of incorporation in 1970 creating the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. When he died in 1978, the Foundation inherited nearly $800 million in assets. These assets were invested and generate enough financial return for the Foundation to continue to grow while awarding nearly $200 million in grants a year.

Q: Who is John MacArthur?
A: John MacArthur was a prominent Chicago businessman who was one of the three wealthiest men in America at the time of his death in 1978. Mr. MacArthur built Bankers Life and Casualty Company of Chicago, an insurance empire, and at one point he also owned nearly 100,000 acres of land.

Q: How does one apply for a grant?
A: Please visit How to Apply for a Grant on this website.

Q: What kind of work does the MacArthur Foundation support?
A: The MacArthur Foundation provides support for specific areas of interest. Please see Grantmaking Nigeria for more information about what type of work the MacArthur Foundation funds.

Q: What kind of work does the MacArthur Foundation NOT support?
A:  The Foundation does not support political activities or attempts to influence action on specific legislation. We do not provide scholarships or tuition assistance for undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate studies; nor do we support annual fundraising drives, institutional benefits, honorary functions, travel assistance, culture exchange programs, or similar projects.

Q: We have noticed that the MacArthur Foundation has given grants to some educational institutions in Nigeria. Can any school apply for such assistance?
A:  No. The Foundation is providing support for higher education in Nigeria through grants to four leading universities only – the University of IbadanBayero UniversityAhmadu Bello University, and the University of Port Harcourt.  The Foundation is not actively soliciting proposals from other universities, not does it consider applications from institutions of higher learning outside of Nigeria. Grant support is not available for educational activities at the primary or secondary school levels.

Q: Does the Foundation provide support for political parties?
A. No. As a non-partisan organization, the Foundation does not give grants to political parties or organizations. It also does not support explicitly political activities.

Q: What factors influence the selection of a grant proposal?
A: In evaluating a proposal for a grant, the Foundation looks for the following: potential significance of the work; relevance to the program goals; the possibility of promoting interaction among people, institutions, ideas, and methods; and clarity of the proposal.

Q: How long does it take for a grant to be made?
A: Grant decisions in the core areas are usually made within six months of application.

Q: What is the duration of a typical grant?
A: The length of an award depends on the nature of the proposal and the program under which it is made. An award may be for a minimum period of three months or a maximum of three years.