Eligibility and Guidelines
The John Merck Fund makes grants in four program areas: Developmental Disabilities, Clean Energy, Environmental Health and Regional Food Systems. Grants are generally limited to the United States, with some rare exceptions. Please see the Fund's individual Program Areas for more details.
The John Merck Fund actively seeks out projects and programs that may merit support, then requests grant applications on behalf of those it finds most promising. It does not encourage the submission of unsolicited proposals. However, organizations interested in obtaining support for work they do in one of JMF's program areas are welcome to send a brief email or letter of inquiry— an email with a letter of inquiry attached is preferable.
Once JMF requests a grant application, the prospective grantee is asked to fill out a Grant Application Form, in which they specify a funding amount and concisely describe the project or program for which the grant is being sought. The prospective grantee also explains how the grant would fit into the project or program’s overall budget, listing all other major funding sources. And they include the following information about the sponsoring organization:
- its legal name;
- the names of its current officers and directors or trustees;
- a brief description of its nature and activities;
- budgets for both the project and for the organization itself.
Applications are also accompanied by:
- Treasury Department rulings on tax exemption status under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) and tax classification under Section 509(a), confirming that the organization is publicly supported;
- a copy of the organization’s most recent financial statement.
The Fund favors:
- outstanding individuals working on promising projects in organizations that may have difficulty attracting funds;
- pilot projects with potential for widespread application;
- advocacy, including litigation, capable of setting or protecting important precedents;
- smaller organizations, start-ups included;
- one-year grant requests (though multi-year grants of up to three years occasionally are made);
- matching-grant opportunities, particularly to help broaden support for fledgling initiatives.
The Fund DOES NOT provide grants for:
- endowment or capital-fund projects;
- large organizations with well-established funding sources (except those that need help launching promising new projects for which funding is not readily available);
- general support (except in the case of small organizations whose entire mission coincides with one of JMF ’s areas of interest);
- individuals (except if his or her project is sponsored by a domestic or foreign educational, scientific or charitable organization);
- documentary, film, photographic, or any other artistic projects.