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W.M. Keck Foundation: Research Program

The W.M. Keck Foundation Research Program seeks to benefit humanity by supporting projects in (1) medical research and (2) science and engineering, which are distinctive and novel in their approach, question the prevailing paradigm, or have the potential to break open new territory in their field. Historically, grants range from $500,000 to $5 million and are typically $2 million or less.

Program Information

Funding is awarded to universities and institutions nationwide for projects that:

  • Focus on important and emerging areas of research;
  • Have the potential to develop breakthrough technologies, instrumentation or methodologies;
  • Are innovative, distinctive and interdisciplinary;
  • Demonstrate a high level of risk due to unconventional approaches, or by challenging the prevailing paradigm;
  • Have the potential for transformative impact, such as the founding of a new field of research, the enabling of observations not previously possible, or the altered perception of a previously intractable problem;
  • Do not focus on clinical or translational research, treatment trials, or research for the sole purpose of drug development;
  • Fall outside the mission of public funding agencies; or
  • Demonstrate that private philanthropy generally, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in particular, is essential to the project’s success.

Application Process

The W.M. Keck Foundation has two Phase I application deadlines a year; each is preceded by a pre-application counseling period. The counseling periods are between Jan. 1 and Feb. 15, leading up to a May 1 application deadline, or between July 1 and Aug. 15, leading up to a Nov. 1 application deadline. 

Full applications (Phase II) are by invitation only. Organizations may submit one Phase I application per grant cycle in each of two areas: (1) Science and Engineering and (2) Medical Research.

NC State Internal Process

NC State applies annually for the November 1 application deadline.

Initial contact from a university must be coordinated through the institution’s central development office via the designated institutional liaison. The Office for Corporate and Foundation Relations will schedule the counseling appointment for all NC State principal investigators (PI). PIs do not participate in the counseling calls. 

Interested NC State PIs should submit concept papers (see below) to the Research Development Office, which will be sent to the W.M. Keck Foundation prior to scheduling a call. The W.M. Keck Foundation will only consider four concept papers in each area (i.e., Science and Engineering or Medical Research), so papers may be subject to internal selection before being sent to the foundation.

Concept Paper

Interested principal investigators should submit a concept paper via the Submitter Dashboard by 5 p.m. on the date listed below. The concept paper must be one page long (12-pt. font and one-inch margins) — following the W.M. Keck Foundation’s guidelines.

Upcoming Deadlines

  • Concept papers are due on or before March 25, 2024 by 5 p.m. 2024


A webinar was recently hosted by the Office of Research and Innovation, featuring program guidance and tips from Jon Horowitz and Lorena McLaren. The audio recording and accompanying slide presentation are now available for viewing.


Questions about the NC State internal process can be directed to

Questions about the W.M. Keck Foundation can be directed to:

Samara Hannah
Executive Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations