Inquiries and Guidelines

Higher Learning Staff

Phillip Brian Harper
Program Director

Armando I. Bengochea
Senior Program Officer, and Director, MMUF

Carolyn Dinshaw
Senior Program Officer

Maria Sachiko Cecire
Program Officer

Dale Rejtmar
Senior Executive Assistant

Jeffrey James Keyes
Executive Assistant

Camilla Somers
Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Planning

Renee Johnson-Thornton
Senior Program Associate, and Associate Director, MMUF

Emma Taati
Senior Program Associate

Daniel Kent
Program Associate for Research

Mary Bates
Program Associate

Susan I. Dady
Program Associate

Beatriz Dal Poz
Program Associate

Elizabeth Foley
Program Associate

Ashley Garner
Program Associate

Kris Choe
Program Assistant

Yoona Hong
Program Assistant

Chris Jo
Program Assistant

Elizabeth LoCascio
Program Assistant


Mellon’s Higher Learning program makes grants to institutions and organizations rather than to individuals. All grants result from invitations issued by Mellon to institutions with which staff have engaged in preliminary exchanges. While we are unable to consider uninvited proposals, we do welcome inquiries from US colleges, universities, and higher education-related organizations, and especially from institutions not previously supported by Mellon. Please do not send inquiries to more than one Mellon grantmaking program. If you already have an account on Mellon’s grantee portal, please contact program staff directly. Otherwise, please submit an inquiry through the grantee portal at

Initial approaches to the Higher Learning program, including emails, must be made by or in express consultation with a senior academic officer, such as a dean or a provost. All visits to Mellon or meetings with Higher Learning program officers are similarly to be conducted by senior academic officers, who may be accompanied by one or two additional institutional representatives. Participants in conversations with Higher Learning staff are expected to have reviewed our grantmaking strategies.

The Higher Learning program generally does not fund overhead; indirect costs; capital costs (construction, renovation, equipment); projects in the social sciences or STEM fields; endowment management fees; one-off conferences; or undergraduate tuition, scholarships, financial aid, or study abroad opportunities. As a rule, Mellon expects colleges and universities to cover general operating costs and equipment, including graduate student tuition. As you contemplate submitting an inquiry, please bear in mind that Higher Learning requires institutions to plan for either the post-grant sustainability or the definitive sunsetting of projects they seek to launch with Foundation support. 

Grantmaking Policies and Guidelines 

Please see Mellon’s grantmaking policies and guidelines for more information regarding the submission of proposals, annual reporting requirements, and grant modification procedures.