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Summer 2013 Vol. 13 Number 1

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Making a Difference Through Private Giving

National Academy of Sciences building, photo by Maxwell MacKenzie

While many of our studies are funded by agencies of the federal government and Congress, private donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations allow us to take on many other vital projects and initiatives.

Take the training of young scientists, engineers, and health professionals in national and international policymaking, for example. Graduate coursework in science, technology, or medicine generally offers students few insights into the role science plays in shaping sound public policy. Through our Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program, now in its 16th year, highly qualified students and early career professionals come to the nation's capital to learn how science influences policy and gain firsthand experience by working on studies and activities here at the Academies. That engagement often sparks careers in public service: Alumni have gone on to work for congressional committees, at federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of State, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation, and at international institutions such as the European Union and World Bank.

In 2014 these fellowships will continue, thanks to generous support from our presidents and from former NAS President Bruce Alberts. "It's terrific that these fellowships will continue," Alberts said. "They have helped many talented professionals build effective careers in science, technology, and health policy, and these are precisely the types of people that the world urgently needs to spread scientific thinking throughout society." Funding is also being provided by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, a private foundation dedicated to supporting research and other scientific and educational activities; Sara Lee Schupf; and alumni of the fellowship program.

Another example is the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, launched 51 years ago to build a more equitable higher education system and increase the diversity of the nation's college and university faculties. Recently, the foundation boosted its commitment to the program, pledging $100 million over the next decade. Administered by the National Research Council, these fellowships are awarded to deserving young scholars who are committed to careers in academia. To date, at least 14 Ford fellows have become university presidents or provosts.

These are only two of many important projects that would not be possible without the support of our members, friends, foundations, and corporations. Such initiatives not only change lives but also provide an important service to the nation.

To learn more about giving opportunities at the Academies, please contact the Office of Development at 202-334-2431 or visit them online.

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Copyright 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences