Mellon Foundation Announces Additional $200 Million Grantmaking Commitment to Nonprofit Arts & Humanities

Vanessa Corrêa, Chief Communications Officer –

In a dramatic move to increase philanthropic effort for the arts and humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced that it will dedicate an additional $200 million in grantmaking – on top of its $300 million originally planned for 2020 – for emergency support to non-profits in higher education, the arts, and humanities, to help shore up struggling institutions during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The additional funds bring this year’s giving to $500 million in a time of urgent need. Nonprofits across the nation have been whipsawed by the interconnected crises of a global pandemic, a national economic depression, and the effects of racial injustice. This grantmaking will help fortify the infrastructure and reimagined programming of nonprofits in education, the arts and culture.

Mellon’s commitment comes as part of a broader partnership between major U.S. foundations — Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — designed to activate over $1.7 billion in enhanced grantmaking to support struggling nonprofits. With Mellon’s enhanced emergency giving already underway, Mellon will focus its grantmaking on elevating and undergirding institutions in the arts, culture, humanities, and higher education that are systemically under-resourced; steered by diverse, farsighted leadership; and courageously intent on expanding the possibilities of artistic exploration and social justice.

With a substantial infusion of emergency capital, these indispensable nonprofit organizations will continue to serve their communities while also working to emerge from the current crises with more sustainable operating models. Nonprofits employ over 12 million people in the United States alone, and the majority of American nonprofit organizations have less than six months of cash reserves.

“We cannot allow the crises of today to sideline the unfinished work needed to move us toward a more robustly engaged, diverse, and culturally inclusive country tomorrow,” said Elizabeth Alexander, President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “We have a responsibility to ensure ever broader access to the transformative power of higher education to drive our understanding of a complex world, and to make sure we fortify the movement in the arts and humanities toward a more complete reflection and diverse examination of the American cultural fabric. Musicians and poets, archivists and scholars, social justice activists and advocates – these are the visionaries who will illuminate the way forward to a more just and fairer America.”

To meet this need, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved an increase in giving by $200 million this calendar year.

Board of Trustees Chair Kathryn A. Hall said, “The magnitude of Mellon’s new financial commitment to these emergency grants, well beyond the budget originally approved for this calendar year, underscores the Foundation’s historic commitment to the arts and humanities as fundamental to human dignity. These nonprofits are a bulwark against the inequities and the instability that the global pandemic has exacerbated. We are proud to stand with our foundation partners in support of these vital organizations.”

The Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest funder of arts, culture, and the humanities, with a total endowment of approximately $6.5 billion. Along with its four foundation partners, Mellon will share additional information about the nonprofits scheduled to receive funding from this groundbreaking commitment as grants are allocated.


About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there.  Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.