Luce Foundation Awards Nearly $9M in New Grants

Dec. 9, 2019
Luce Foundation Awards Nearly $9M in New Grants
2018 Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative © Vanderbilt University.

The Henry Luce Foundation is pleased to announce $8,955,000 in grants to 28 organizations. These grants, awarded in seven program areas, reflect the Foundation’s commitment to promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding.

In addition to one responsive grant, the American Art Program awarded 13 grants for traveling exhibitions, many of which reflect a field-wide effort to recognize and exhibit the work of women and African American artists.

A grant from the Asia Program will fund academic conferences and career development opportunities for emerging scholars of Southeast Asia, while three grants awarded by the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs emphasize the Initiative’s support for media projects and for collaboration among scholarly, journalistic, and policy communities.

The Theology Program made six grants through the Luce Fund for Theological Education—which aims to support innovation in teaching, learning, research, and leadership development at seminaries and divinity schools—and one responsive grant for a multifaceted project focused on advancing public scholarship.

A grant to the Asia Foundation will provide for continued administration of the Luce Scholars Program. And First Nations Development Institute received a grant to continue the Foundation's new Indigenous Knowledge Fellowships for a second year. 

The grants awarded by the Foundation's programs are described in more detail below.

View the full list of new grants

American Art

Annual Exhibition Competition

Each year the American Art Program conducts a competition to identify and award grants for major loan exhibitions that advance the study, understanding, and experience of art of the United States. This year, the Program has granted $1,850,000 for 13 projects at institutions in seven states.

Six of the one-person exhibitions selected this year will showcase work by women, allowing the Foundation to support to a field-wide effort to redress the longstanding tendency of museums to privilege male artists with solo exhibitions. The featured women will include: the major post-war abstractionist Joan Mitchell; the Washington, D.C., colorist Alma Thomas; the seminal conceptual artist Lorraine O’Grady; and photographer Deana Lawson, whose work challenges conventional representations of black identities.

The selected thematic exhibitions include Fellowship: The Guggenheim Foundation and the History of American Photography, 1937–2017, a critical consideration of the canon of 20th-century American photography, and The Dirty South: The Southern Impulse in Art Material and Sonic Culture, an exploration of the rootedness of African American art in the culture of the American South.

Among the three awarded exhibitions of pre-20th-century American art, an exhibition of Mississippian art from the ancient Spiro Mounds is the first instance of Luce Foundation exhibition support in the field of Native North American archaeology—an area in which the Foundation recently made its first responsive grant, to the National Museum of the American Indian.

Responsive Grants

In addition to the loan exhibition awards, the American Art Program made a responsive grant to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, the former home and workplace of the leading Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole. The grant will support completion of the restoration of the main house and a permanent exhibition devoted to Cole’s creative practice and environmental awareness.

View the new American Art grants


The Asia Program, which is dedicated to developing expertise on East and Southeast Asia through cultivation of resources and promotion of intellectual exchange between the United States and Asia, awarded a grant to Duke University’s Southeast Asia Research Group (SEAREG). SEAREG, a global network of social scientists engaged in the study of Southeast Asia, will use the funds to support emerging scholars by offering research grants, providing mentorship, and hosting academic conferences.

View the new Asia grants

Higher Education

A Higher Education grant to the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine will help launch a new effort to develop recommendations that address the discipline-specific challenges faced by women in science and engineering. The Committee will also convene a workshop to assess the current state of women in STEM entrepreneurship.

View the new Higher Education grants

Luce Scholars

A grant to the Asia Foundation will provide renewed support for administration of the Luce Scholars Program. The Asia Foundation has managed scholar placements and provided scholars with support in Asia since the program’s inception.

View the new Luce Scholars grants

Initiative on Native American Intellectual Leadership

First Nations Development Institute has been awarded a grant to continue a fellowship program for Native American intellectual leaders. Initially launched in 2019, the program will name its first fellows by the end of the current year. Each year, First Nations organizes an annual competition, selecting ten fellows to receive financial support, practical advice and assistance, and organized opportunities to learn from one another.

View the new Native American Leadership grants

Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs

The Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs aims to enhance public understanding of religion in global affairs by bringing more nuanced and contextualized analysis of complex issues to wider publics. Its three most recent grants demonstrate the Initiative’s commitment to supporting the media and encouraging collaboration across scholarly, journalistic, and policy communities.

A grant to the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting will support coverage of a wide range of issues across the globe, in addition to partnerships with academic institutions. The Bureau for International Reporting will produce several television reports on religion and international affairs, including one through the New York University student program, GlobalBeat. Finally, a grant to the Hollings Center will fund a conference that brings together academics, practitioners, and policymakers to explore the global reverberations of the rise and decline of political Islam in the Middle East, Africa, and South, Southeast, and Central Asia.

View the new Religion in International Affairs grants


The Luce Fund for Theological Education

The Luce Fund for Theological Education is an annual competition for seminaries and divinity schools, through which the Theology Program supports the development of new models of teaching and learning, research and publication, leadership development, and educational program design. This year, a total of $2,600,000 in grants was awarded for six theological education projects.

A grant to the Jewish Theological Seminary will support new projects in its Center for Pastoral Education, including expansion of its clinical pastoral education program, while a project at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary will revolve around the development of a documentary film exploring gentrification, race, and theological education.

Two grants will provide support for leadership development initiatives. The Mexican American Catholic College will launch a program for young Latinx faith leaders, introducing them to theological education and providing hands-on experiences outside the classroom. A grant to Union Presbyterian Seminary will support the Katie Geneva Cannon Center for Womanist Leadership, which aims to shape and support the next generation of African American women seminarians, clergy, and scholars of religion.

Finally, the Fund awarded grants to Union Theological Seminary, which will continue to grow its newly developed program in Buddhist Studies, and to Vanderbilt University Divinity School, which will expand the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative.

Responsive Grants

In addition to the six institutions selected to receive grants from the Luce Fund for Theological Education, the American Academy of Religion (AAR) received a grant for a project focused on advancing public scholarship. In addition to redeveloping and expanding Reading Religion—an online review of publications in religious studies—the AAR plans to produce author podcasts, award grants to emerging scholars, and convene meetings to discuss future possibilities of public scholarship.

View the new Theology grants

Grants Announcement

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