Ford Foundation Donates $50 Million to Harvard Institute for Government Innovation

The Ford Foundation has announced a $50 million endowment grant to Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government to encourage innovative government programs in the U.S. and overseas. The grant, the largest single donation the Kennedy School has ever received and the largest single endowment grant ever made by the foundation, will establish the Institute for Government Innovation at the Kennedy School.

Joseph S. Nye, dean of the Kennedy School of Government, said the grant will help invigorate the school's central mission of training public leaders and working to resolve public policy problems.

"For too long, our culture has focused excessively on the failures of government, which has helped create a distrust in government," said Nye. "The endowment grant is an investment in public service which is so vital to the nurturing of healthy democracies throughout the world. We hope the institute will help inspire a renewed passion among young people to work in the public sector for the betterment of society as a whole."

The new Institute for Government Innovation will build on the success of the Innovations in American Government program launched in 1986 by the Ford Foundation and administered by the Kennedy School of Government. Since 1986, the program has recognized 145 creative government initiatives with grants of $100,000 each and 135 finalist programs with grants of $20,000 each. Although the program began with a focus on state and local governments, in 1995 it expanded to encompass innovations in the federal government as well.

"Creative solutions for public problems abound in government at all levels. That has been amply demonstrated by the Innovations awards in the United States and is increasingly apparent in other societies around the world," said Ford Foundation president Susan V. Berresford. "The Kennedy School incubated this idea with great success, and this significant support will allow its new institute to make connections and engage others on an international scale."

The Institute for Government Innovation will run the Innovations awards program in the U.S. and will also serve as the hub for a global network of innovators in the public sector as well as other interested practitioners, students, policy analysts, and journalists concerned with the best practices of government. Other institute activities will include conferences and training sessions for public managers, publications, and research fellowships.

For more information, visit the Innovations Web site at

"Ford Foundation Grants $50 Million to Harvard to Create Institute For Government Innovation" John F. Kennedy School of Government Press Release 05/05/2001.