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The Ford Foundation

Since awarding a major grant to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering in 1963, the Ford Foundation has been a consistent supporter of the University of Toronto, making significant contributions to its infrastructure, scholarship and research.

In 1936, industrialist Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and his son Edsel established the Ford Foundation to provide support for scientific, educational and charitable causes. Today, it is one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States, awarding grants that total more than $500 million every year to support programs that further social justice and civic engagement.

The Ford Foundation made an initial impact at the University of Toronto when, in 1963, it awarded a $2.3-million grant to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Its purpose was to enable the faculty to offer financial assistance to doctoral students; hire faculty members, research associates and technicians; purchase equipment for graduate-level studies; and make renovations to classrooms and laboratories.

Since that time, the Ford Foundation has awarded the University of Toronto a total of $5.7 million in grants to support its research efforts, an important source of funding for critical academic work. In 2001, for example, a grant of $250,000 enabled Ron Diebert, a U of T  political science professor, to launch the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. This interdisciplinary laboratory has become a leading global advocate for privacy and human rights, and has made headlines around the world with research exposing digital espionage and government surveillance.

In 2015, the Foundation refined its grantmaking strategy, prioritizing the fight against financial, racial and gender inequality. The Ford Foundation now focuses on civic engagement, free expression, inclusive and equitable economies, internet freedom and learning opportunities for young people. Its generous support of the University of Toronto plays a critical role in the Foundation’s mission to fight global inequality by funding world-class research and education.