The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is an American philanthropic family foundation founded in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan, former president and CEO of General Motors. The Sloan Foundation today serves as a grantmaking organization which funds projects in science, economics, and technology.
A number of the Sloan Foundation’s grants support left-of-center advocacy on environmentalist issues, on economic policy, and in the arts.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was founded in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan.  Sloan served as president of General Motors from 1923 to 1946, overseeing a period of large market expansion for the company.  Sloan established the foundation in order to extend his “accomplishments in this life,” and the Sloan Foundation has since served as a funding organization for research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics. 
In 1945, the Sloan Foundation donated $4 million to launch the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, now known as the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which has been responsible for important advancements in cancer biology.  Five years later, the Sloan Foundation made a $5 million gift to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Alfred P. Sloan’s alma mater, to establish what is now known as the MIT Sloan School of Management. 
The Foundation today focuses on grantmaking in five major program areas: Research, Higher Education, Technology, Public Understanding, and the New York City Program.  Over the past several decades, the Sloan Foundation has also completed projects in eleven other subject areas, including biosecurity, municipal government responsiveness, and synthetic biology.  In addition to grantmaking, the Sloan Foundation hosts the Sloan Research Fellowship program, which awards 126 young researchers and university faculty members annually with awards of $75,000 to further their studies in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or economics. 
The Sloan Foundation disbursed nearly $98.5 million in grants in 2017 alone.  Most of these grants were targeted at educational institutions and projects focused in the sciences, specifically economics, energy policy, and environmental science. The organization awarded its largest single grant in 2017 to Wikimedia Foundation in the amount of $2 million for the structuring of data to create greater user accessibility on Wikipedia. 
Environmentalism and Energy
The Sloan Foundation provides substantial funding to projects in environmentalism and energy policy, giving to both educational institutions and independent nonprofit organizations to promote environmental research.
In 2017, the Sloan Foundation offered grants to numerous left-of-center environmentalist organizations, including $664,260 to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) for various environmentalist projects.  The Foundation also gave $150,000 to the Council on Foreign Relations for studies of American energy usage and the impact climate change may have on US foreign policy.  The Foundation gave one of its largest environmentally-focused grants to Resources for the Future, donating $1.4 million to the organization for research on “social cost” estimations of carbon usage and the efficacy of top-down environmental regulations. 
The Foundation also provided substantial grants to various universities for environmental projects, including grants to MIT totaling $925,000 for the study of nuclear energy technologies, research on energy storage technologies, and the establishment of a fund in honor of former Sloan Foundation president and MIT Professor Paul Joskow.  In 2017, the Sloan Foundation donated nearly $9.4 million to fund scientific research in the University of California system, providing grants targeted at projects on microbiomes in the constructed environment, deep carbon science, and energy policy. 
After President Donald Trump disbanded a board of environmental scientists overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an independent group of researchers formed the External Environmental Economics Advisory Committee to continue to evaluate each new EPA rule.  The Sloan Foundation has provided funding to the group. 
The Sloan Foundation has supported 449 papers in economics through various fellowships and fiscal sponsorship programs.  In recent years, the Foundation has supported work primarily in the impact of aging on the labor force, the economic implications of the Great Recession, behavioral economics, and new empirical methods for economic research.  In 2017, the Foundation gave the most grant funding in economics to the National Bureau of Economic Research, totaling $2.2 million to fund a wide range of projects including research on the impact of economic policy on energy usage, Social Security reform, and “distributional equity” in United States energy policy. 
In 2017, the Foundation provided grants to numerous left-of-center think-tanks to fund economic research, including the Brookings Institution ($945,584) and Innovations for Poverty Action ($400,000).  The Foundation also gave a $354,000 grant to the New Venture Fund (NVF), a left-of-center funding and fiscal sponsorship organization. 
Most of the Sloan Foundation’s economic giving centered on funding projects at large, elite research universities. MIT received more funding than any other individual university, with grants totally nearly $1.9 million in 2017 for economics research.  Grant funding focused primarily on innovation in American markets and the impact of automation on labor trends. 
The Sloan Foundation gave $1.8 million in grants to Stanford University for the funding of economics projects, with researchers focused on the aging workforce and the development of new methodologies for empirical economics. 
In 2017, the Foundation provided Harvard University with a $141,606 grant for the express purpose of examining human capital depreciation, and another $104,647 for the creation of a postdoctoral program on aging and labor force participation.  Later that year, the Sloan Foundation contributed another $273,082 for an additional project on how age and employment status affect worker preferences for working conditions.  Altogether, the Sloan Foundation funded over $1.6 million in economics projects at Harvard in 2017 alone. 
New York University also received substantial funding from the Sloan Foundation to increase diversity in economics, with grants for economics projects totaling $1.4 million in 2017. 
Aside from investing in particular projects at post-secondary institutions, the Sloan Foundation has funded numerous educational initiatives, focusing on minority recruitment in science, economics, and engineering.
In 2017, the Foundation gave a total of almost $2.4 million to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) to recruit and fund ethnic minority students in doctoral engineering programs.  The Foundation also gave $449,500 to the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute to fund students from underrepresented groups in doctoral programs in mathematics. 
The Sloan Foundation has also funded various film and theatre initiatives in order to produce dramatic content with a scientific component, bringing energy science into the realm of public entertainment. In 2017, the Foundation gave a $300,000 grant to the Sundance Institute to support the development of a science and technology film program at the Sundance Film Festival.  The Sloan Foundation also gave $436,320 to the Tribeca Film Institute in order to raise the profile of science film production and screenings. 
In 2017, the Sloan Foundation awarded 33 grants to projects in technology at various universities and research organizations.  The Foundation awarded the largest of these grants to Yale University, providing $1 million in funding to expand software preservation infrastructure in order to preserve software-dependent digital content.  The Foundation awarded several other grants targeted at preserving and expanding access to digital information, including $900,000 to the Paris School of Economics, $774,770 to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and $747,258 to the University of California system. 
The Foundation is further involved in funding research on coding and data programming, giving $912,604 to Julia Computing for the development of the Julia programming language and $659,359 to the University of California, Berkeley for developing new support tools for the Python programming language.  The Sloan Foundation also granted the University of Chicago $750,000 for research on how such computational tools and data-analysis environments impact users. 
In 2017, the Sloan Foundation gave $211,091 to the controversial Hopewell Fund, an organization which serves as a large fiscal sponsor of left-of-center causes, for the development of data centralization in the Data Science Environment partnership. 
New York City Program
In 2017, the Sloan Foundation spent $689,033 on its “New York City Program,” designed to support organizations and projects based in New York City.  The Sloan Foundation awarded the largest of these grants to the Fund for the City of New York, providing a total of $474,893 to the fund to improve the technology of borough president offices and community boards. 
Funding for the New York City Program has increased over the past few years, totaling $3.2 million in 2019, including an additional $1.4 million grant to the Fund for the City of New York. 
People and Funding
The Sloan Foundation is a private family foundation that generates most of its income through capital gains and the sale of its assets. 
The Foundation has an extensive list of trustees, including powerful investor Richard Bernstein, CEO of Richard Bernstein Advisors.  The trustees also include members of academia, including Spelman College president Mary Schmidt Campbell, Princeton University professor Marta Tienda, and MIT chancellor Cynthia Barnhart.  Though the Sloan Foundation has no formal connection to General Motors, former president and CEO Frederick A. Henderson also sits on the board of trustees for the Foundation.