In 2015, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded approximately $3.8 billion in grants, increasing contributions by $46 million from the previous year. This is the third consecutive year in which the world’s largest private foundation boosted its grant spending.
The Gates Foundation has five main program areas: global development, global health, global policy and advocacy, communications, and U.S. programs.
Global development has consistently garnered the bulk of the foundation’s grant funding, but in 2015 the foundation reported a drop of over $200 million in global development grants. Global health grants also dropped by $130 million, declining from $1.1 billion in 2014 to $980 million in 2015; while grants for U.S. programs increased by $529 million.
According to the Gates Foundation, broad programmatic spending year to year can vary for a number of reasons and is not necessarily reflective of any strategy shift. For instance, ranging length of grant agreements or multiyear commitments can affect yearly funding figures.
In 2015, the Gates Foundation’s largest contribution was granted to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund — a $417 million grant for a scholarship program supporting minority students from low-income families in the U.S. This contributed largely to the increase in the foundation’s U.S. programs spending, which mostly funds initiatives in the education sector.
The Gates Foundation also backed several international aid agencies, including Agence Française de Développement ($164 million), theWorld Bank Group’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development ($102 million) and International Development Association ($25 million), and UNICEF ($51 million).
Excluding these institutions, below are the 20 organizations that received the most Gates Foundation grants based on an analysis of the foundation’s own data. Fourteen of the 20 specialize in the health sector, four work in agriculture, and two focus on education. Five are based outside the U.S.
Bill Gates recently announced that the foundation’s contributions to Africa the last 15 years reached $9 billion and pledged an additional $5 billion to the region over the next 5 years which is expected to target health and agricultural productivity. Earlier this year, Melinda Gates announced an additional $120 million to support family planning initiatives over the next three years.
Last year, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, or the TB Alliance, won a major grant amounting to $145 million for the development of safe, affordable and innovative treatments for all forms of tuberculosis. The TB Alliance also secured an additional $2 million for the creation of a public database on the regulatory requirements for chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) to accelerate drug development and global health registration in targeted countries.
2.Novavax Founded: 1987 Headquarters: Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States Total 2015 grants: $89,083,312 Program areas: Global health
Novavax acquired an $89 million grant under the Gates Foundation’s global health program for the development of a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus which will be delivered in developing countries. This vaccine is envisioned to boost maternal immunization and reduce the burden of RSV disease in infants below six months of age.
3.University of Washington Founded: 1861 Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, United States Total 2015 grants: $79,634,460 Program areas: Global development, global Health, global policy and advocacy, communications, U.S. programs
The University of Washington, through itsnonprofit arm, won multiple grants in areas of global development, global health, global policy and advocacy, and communications, as well as grants for several U.S.-based programs. Some of its largest projects in 2015 include a $35 million grant for strengthening the evidence base on major challenges to global health as a means to support policymaking, a $7 million grant for the development of a publicly accessible online tool that compares the relative costs, efficacy, and impact of various diarrhea prevention and treatment measures, a $5 million grant to improve the scope, quality, transparency, and planning for of HIV and TB programs, and a $5 million grant for research on key issues and trends in agriculture, policy, poverty reduction, gender and other development challenges.
4.Emory University Founded: 1836 Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia, United States Total 2015 grants: $75,121,305 Program areas: Global development, global health
In 2015, the Gates Foundation awarded a $72 million grant to Emory University for the establishment of first-class data networks to track preventable causes of fatality among children globally. The Atlanta-based university also won smaller, health-related grants for the creation of a global data resource for tracking infectious and preventable causes of under-five mortality, the development of an evidence base to support future maternal vaccination demand creation strategies in low and middle-income countries, and the facilitation of an analysis on the long-term effects of an infant’s circumstances at birth on human health variations. In the area of water, sanitation and hygiene, Emory University won a grant for the evaluation of the Gram Vikas sanitation program which is geared toward ending open defecation and improving health outcomes in rural India.
5.PATH Founded: 1977 Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, United States Total 2015 grants: $64,900,459 Program areas: Global development, global health, global policy and advocacy, communications
PATH is heavily involved in the global health initiatives of the Gates Foundation, winning multiple grants in areas of vaccine development and delivery, health research and health systems development. Some of its high-value grants include a $16 million contribution toward reducing morbidity and mortality of Japanese encephalitis particularly by increasing access to effective, low-cost vaccines for children who are at risk. The foundation also made an $11 million contribution for strengthening PATH’s vaccine development and introduction platforms in order to establish a pipeline of high-quality vaccine projects that are global in scope.
6.Clinton Health Access Initiative Founded: 2002 Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts, United States Total 2015 grants: $62,770,741 Program areas: Global development, global health
In 2015, the Clinton Health Access Initiative secured four grants exceeding $10 million; the largest of which is a $16 million contribution to improve cold chain systems in order to expand vaccine coverage in Ethiopia, India and Tanzania. The amount is likewise expected to contribute toward strengthening cold chain equipment market dynamics globally. Apart from this grant, the foundation also awarded $15 million for widening vaccine coverage and strengthening health systems for immunization in Nigeria to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality. A $13 million grant, meanwhile, was awarded in support of increasing access to essential commodities for the treatment of pneumonia and diarrhea for children below five years of age in Ethiopia. Another $10 million was awarded to CHAI to support national health programs in Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa to scale up voluntary medical circumcision among males.
7.FHI 360 Founded: 1971 Headquarters: Durham, North Carolina, United States Total 2015 grants: $59,815,612 Program areas: Global development
FHI 360’s largest grants from the Gates Foundation include a $27 million support for a clinical trial comparing HIV incidence and contraceptive benefits in women using three family planning methods across four sub-Saharan African countries. The nonprofit also secured a $20 million grant in support of its Alive & Thrive program aimed at reducing nutrition-related infant death and disability by advancing feeding policies, products and practices at scale in Nigeria. Its third-largest grant from the foundation, worth $12 million, will support efforts to reduce nutrition-related death and disability in India.
8.Cornell University Founded: 1865 Headquarters: Ithaca, New York, United States Total 2015 grants: $45,528,968 Program areas: Global development, global health
The Gates Foundation primarily engages Cornell University in the area of agricultural development. Under the foundation’s global development program, the New York-based university received a $24 million grant to increase the rate of genetic gain and reduce vulnerability of crops to wheat diseases, as well as heat and drought stress. This funding will benefit smallholder wheat farmers and consumers in East Africa and South Asia. Cornell also received $13 million to assist in the design of current and future agriculture projects and policies that will broaden year-round access to affordable food for the rural poor, as well as a $5 million contribution toward conducting evidence-based gender training for agricultural researchers in Africa for the implementation of gender-sensitive strategies for smallholder farmers.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics was awarded a $25 million grant to develop high-yielding legume varieties that are pest and disease resistant for the benefit of smallholder farmers. The foundation also contributed $4 million for the establishment of low-cost genotyping facilities that will enhance gains from genetic and breeding programs. Both programs will be carried out across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Meanwhile, another $15 million was awarded to ICRISAT to enhance the production of sorghum and millets as well as to develop specialized varieties of crops and improve crop management for higher yields.
10.PSI Founded: 1970 Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States Total 2015 grants: $38,743,988 Program areas: Global development, global health, global policy and ddvocacy
PSI received $20 million from the Gates Foundation in support of malaria elimination initiatives. Specifically, the funding is expected to fortify case management and surveillance against malaria in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. A $15 million grant was also awarded to the global health network to help address the contraceptive needs of adolescents ranging from 15-19 years of age in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.
11.JSI Research and Training Institute Founded: 1978 Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts, United States President: Joel Lamstein Total 2015 grants: $36,994,965 Program areas: Global development, global health
12.University of Oxford Founded: 1906 Headquarters: Oxford, England, United Kingdom Total 2015 grants: $34,117,906 Program areas: Global development, global health
13.Harvard University Founded: 1636 Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States Total 2015 grants: $29,300,529 Program areas: Global development, global health, communications, U.S. programs
14.Johns Hopkins University Founded: 1876 Headquarters: Baltimore, Maryland, United States Total 2015 grants: $27,528,462 Program areas: Global development, global health, U.S. programs
16.Natural History Museum Founded: 1881 Headquarters: London, England, United Kingdom Total 2015 grants: $27,164,541 Program areas: Global health
17.New Venture Fund Founded: 2006 Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States Total 2015 grants: $25,128,691 Program areas: Global development, global health, global policy and advocacy, U.S. programs
Ezekiel is a senior development analyst and team leader at Devex. His primary role is monitoring and reporting on project opportunities and trends of leading multilateral and bilateral donor agencies. A graduate of Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Political Science, Ezekiel has extensive global development research experience having also worked at the World Youth Alliance, Asia and the Pacific (WYAAP).
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