Past Initiatives

Religion in International Affairs

The Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion in International Affairs was launched in June 2005 to provide intellectual leadership, develop new paradigms for research and teaching, create new resources and networks, and enhance public understanding of and discussion about religion in the international sphere.

The initiative supported projects that drew on scholarly expertise to foster and disseminate more nuanced, contextualized and dynamic understandings of religion in global public life, politics and policy. Projects explored the role of religion in domains including conflict and peace-building, environment and sustainability, political economy and development, geopolitics, health and education, gender, race and sexuality, law and human rights, social movements, migration and humanitarianism.

Over 16 years, the initiative awarded 223 grants, totaling more than $60 million, to academic, public policy and media organizations. It fostered collaborations across these sectors and encouraged the development of sustainable conversations and relationships between colleagues and institutional partners in many parts of the world.

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Higher Education

Higher education has been a focus of the the Henry Luce Foundation since its very first grant in 1936 to Yenching University in Beijing. Although no longer a formal grantmaking program as of 2021, the Foundation continues to support higher education institutions—especially in the humanities and social sciences—through its other areas of focus.

Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment

A competition for invited liberal arts colleges and liberal arts college consortia in the United States, the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) was designed to encourage innovative approaches to Asian studies teaching and research at the undergraduate level through the lens of the environment and sustainable development. Approved by the Foundation’s Directors in November 2010, LIASE awarded 26 exploration grants and 20 implementation grants, investing close to $11 million over seven years.

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American Art Renewal Fund

The American Art Renewal Fund was established in 2010 to strengthen museums’ American art programs in response to the economic downturn that forced widespread layoffs, cancellation of exhibitions, modified capital projects, deferred building maintenance, shortened public hours, and increased admission fees. Instead of its typical project grants, the Luce Foundation considered requests for operating support.

Applicants were required to describe how the economic downturn affected their overall institution, specifically the American art activities, and how an AARF grant would assist in the museum’s recovery. The AARF initiative was open to 93 art museums, all prior grantees with successful track records fulfilling Luce-funded projects. The Henry Luce Foundation awarded 57 grants to museums across the country for a total of nearly $5.5 million.

Luce Initiative on East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History

The Luce Initiative on East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History was a five-year field development initiative, conducted in partnership with the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) from June 2005 to June 2010. The goals of this initiative were to train the next generation of specialists, strengthen institutional programs, and support innovative research. The initiative also aimed to foster links between Asian and North American scholars, and promote wider visibility and public appreciation of this subject.

The program had two parallel competitions: (1) institutional grants to invited North American universities and museums, managed by the Foundation's Asia Program, and (2) individual fellowships and grants for graduate students and scholars from Asia and North America, administered by ACLS. Over its five years of activity, the Archaeology Initiative invested close to $11 million in support of 17 institutional grants (ten new faculty positions and seven collaborative research projects) and 130 individual fellowship awards.

American Art Program Conservation Initiative

In 2007, the American Art Program conducted a special one-year initiative providing grants to conserve American art objects in museum permanent collections.

Approximately 100 proposals were reviewed from museums of all budget sizes needing to conserve American paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, textiles and furniture. The field’s vigorous response to the Luce Foundation’s request for proposals clearly indicated that the need for conservation treatment funds could be overstated.

The Henry Luce Foundation awarded 48 grants for a total of just over $1,750,000.

Environment Initiative

In June 2000, the Luce Foundation announced a $30 million initiative in the environment, designed to enhance the quality of academic training and research on the environment at small liberal arts colleges and large research universities, and to support ground-breaking projects of environmental organizations that held promise for solving specific problems.

Between the initiative’s launch and 2012, the foundation approved 77 grants ranging from $1,000 to $1.6 million. These grants have reached 35 American colleges and universities, and 32 non-governmental organizations. Grants in higher education supported interdisciplinary programs, international exchanges, participatory and empirical teaching, and training in environmental management. Grants to environmental organizations focused on large-scale global systems, science-driven public policy, sustainable development, and biodiversity and natural resource management.

With the grants approved in March of 2007, the foundation reached its goal of $30 million, and celebrated the successful completion of the initiative.

Luce Fund for Asian Studies

The Luce Fund for Asian Studies, established in 1999, was a $12 million initiative to strengthen the study of Asia at the undergraduate level of American higher education. The initiative supported the creation of permanent junior faculty positions at selective American liberal arts colleges to foster the study of East and Southeast Asia and reinforce the liberal arts. Thirty-eight grants were awarded over four years through annual competitions.

The aim of the program was to bolster existing Asian studies programs to new levels of quality and coverage rather than to initiate new Asian studies programs. Each grant supported salary and benefits for a new professor for a four-year period and a program fund of $10,000 per year for Asia-related activities such as visiting lectureships, student internships, library acquisitions, and faculty exchange. New appointments added depth or breadth to an Asia program and included full-time language teaching positions as well as positions in the humanities and social science disciplines.

The American Collections Enhancement (ACE) Initiative

In 1996, the American Collections Enhancement (ACE) initiative was established to highlight American art collections that are not widely known, but deserve greater attention.

The Luce Foundation developed the initiative to proactively "find" collections with significant American art and fund projects explicitly intended to raise their visibility. Many of the targeted museums were small to mid-size and, often due to their locations, primarily served as local and regional resources. Many had not only significant American art collections, but also impressive building facilities, and ambitious programs. Despite their worthy collections, however, many lacked the resources to develop materials and programs to reach beyond their own cities.

With the Luce Foundation's support, ACE grantees:

Between 1996 and the ACE initiative's end in December 2000, the Luce Foundation distributed nearly $8 million for projects at 57 museums in 40 states.