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The 4 Largest US Endowments and Foundations


Not sure about the difference between a foundation and an endowment, or why you should care about either? These nonprofit organizations fund education, scientific research, the arts, and healthcare. They have billions of dollars under their control and they invest in a variety of areas from bonds to real estate. Learning more about the largest endowments and foundations in the U.S. can help you understand the impact they have on humanity and the economy. Who knows, you might even want to consider working for one someday.

Bill Gates 

(Photo Credit: jurvetson/Flickr)

Recently, the institutional investing data site Graypools put together a list of the top U.S. foundations and endowments based on their regulatory filings and ordered by gross assets. (Note: this ranking is based on 2014 data and doesn’t “adjust for fully-secured liabilities, such as mortgages on development real estate.”)

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Let’s take a closer look at the top four:

1. President and Fellows of Harvard College

This permanent endowment (meaning that funds come from money the investment generates but the endowment itself can never be liquidated or sold) is the largest in the country, and a part of Harvard University‘s endowment fund. It is used to support faculty and students via professorships, financial aid for students, fellowships, etc. This endowment is worth an impressive $56.37 billion.

2. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was established in 2000 and is the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S. Funds are used to support innovations in education and healthcare around the world in an effort to “dramatically reduce inequity.” They also have some job opportunities available. Many of these positions are in Seattle, where the foundation is based, but others are based at points all over the world. According to Graypools’ study, this foundation is worth $41.31 billion.

3. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

Kaiser Foundation Hospitals is worth approximately $34.99 billion and operates as a subsidiary of Kaiser Permanente, Inc. The hospital group operates 38 hospitals, over 600 medical offices in eight states, specialty facilities such as chemical dependency clinics, and more than a dozen dental clinics.

4. Yale University Investment Fund

Many of the endowments and foundations on the list are tied to universities. Yale University‘s investment fund rounds out the No. 4 slot (Princeton came in at No. 5) with a fund worth a total of $28.32 billion. In the last decade, Yale reports adding over $8 billion to the endowment. The annual endowment update provides more detailed information on the investment and management of the fund.

For more information, check out the complete list of the 40 largest foundations and endowments in the U.S. today.

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Do you have any experience working with a large foundation or endowment that you’d like to share? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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