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Eligible Institutions

Research universities, medical colleges and major private independent scientific and medical research institutes are eligible. Organizations must be exempt from federal taxation as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and be designated as a public charity (and not a private foundation) as defined by Section 509(a)(1) or 509(a)(2) or 170(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. If the institution is located in the State of California, the organization must also be exempt from California State Franchise or Income Tax under Section 23701(d) of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

Organizations must be able to provide current full, certified, audited financial statements prepared on an annual basis in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. If in existence less than five years, the organization must be able to provide at least three consecutive full, certified, audited financial statements prepared on an annual basis.

All tax-exempt documentation and audited financial statements must be in the same, current and full name of the qualifying organization.

The management and fiscal condition of an institution is taken into account when reviewing an institution for eligibility.

If a collaborative project is being considered, the lead institution must be identified and all members must meet the Foundation’s eligibility requirements.

Not Eligible for Funding

  • General operating expenses, endowments or deficit reduction
  • General and federated campaigns, including fundraising events, dinners or mass mailings
  • Grants to individuals
  • Conference or seminar sponsorship
  • Book publication and film or theater productions
  • Public policy research
  • Institutions that are located outside the United States
  • Institutions that do not have a tax-exempt ruling from the federal government and (if located in California) the State of California
  • Institutions that do not have at least three consecutive full, certified, audited financial statements
  • “Conduit” organizations, unified funds or organizations that use grant funds from donors to support other organizations or individuals
  • Institutions that are subsidiaries or affiliates of larger entities that do not have a separate board of directors and independent audited financial statements

Science and Engineering Program

The Science and Engineering Research Program seeks to benefit humanity by supporting projects that are distinctive and novel in their approach, question the prevailing paradigm, or have the potential to break open new territory in their field. Past grants have been awarded to major universities and independent research institutions to support pioneering science and engineering research and the development of promising new technologies, and to facilitate the purchase of advanced instruments where such instruments would further specific research ventures. Historically, grants range from $500,000 to $5 million and are typically $2 million or less. In 2013, research grants will continue to be capped at $1 million.


Program Priorities

Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects in science and engineering research that:

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm
  • Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success

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