Support for basic scientific research lies at the core of the foundation’s mission.  Alfred P. Sloan Jr. felt strongly that future increases in human welfare would be driven by an increased understanding and mastery of the natural world and that it was thus important to support those scientific pioneers who are expanding the frontiers of human knowledge.

Because our resources constitute such a small fraction of total societal investment in research, the Foundation must be extremely strategic both in the design of its grantmaking programs and in selecting individual projects for funding. In each of our science grantmaking programs, the Foundation seeks proposals for original projects led by outstanding individuals or teams, which exhibit a high degree of methodological rigor, which have a high expected return to society, and for which funding from the private sector, government, or other foundations is not yet widely available.