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The Morehead-Cain Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-07-05

At A Glance

The Morehead-Cain Foundation

(formerly John Motley Morehead Foundation)

P.O. Box 690

Chapel Hill, NC United States 27514-0690

Telephone: (919) 962-1201


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Family foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-06-30)

Assets: $216,528,523

Total giving: $7,438,745





Additional Contact Information

Toll free tel.: (800) 741-9023


Trust established in 1945 in NY; Name changed in 207 as a result of a significant gift from the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation - Mr. Morehead, an engineer and diplomat who was an executive and one of the founders of Union Carbide Corp., had long admired the Rhodes Trust and its program of Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford University and wanted to establish a similar program. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Morehead's intention in creating the foundation was to provide excellence to his alma mater by attracting outstanding students to the university through a scholarship program. The donor served as chairman of the foundation's board until his death in 1965, at which time the bulk of his estate passed to the foundation as its permanent endowment

Purpose and Activities

To attract outstanding, well-rounded students to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Through the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program, the foundation currently makes awards for undergraduate study only at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to graduates of NC high schools. schools outside the state and in Canada, and public schools in the United Kingdom.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Discovery Fund

Launched in 2008, the fund provides each scholar up to $8,000 in grant funding over the course of four years to delve deeper into personal or professional interests, sharpen skills and to pursue ideas. The fund was designed as a complement to the Summer Enrichment Program. The fund serves to focus and advance the individual scholar's interests, intellectual or creative pursuits, or professional. The fund is optional, for the entire year and must be applied for and approved by a committee of Morehead Alumni.

Grants to Individuals Program

Undergraduate scholarships by nomination only to high school students in NC and Canada, public schools in Great Britain, and selected secondary schools in the rest of the U.S. to be used for attendance only at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Morehead-Cain Merit Scholarship Program

The program provides a full four-year scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that includes: 1) an annual stipend that covers full tuition and all other normal expenses, including student fees, housing, books, supplies, and travel; 2) Laptop computers for all entering freshman; 3) A fully funded, four year Summer Enrichment Program, beginning the summer before the freshman year; 4) Discovery grants of up to $8,000 total over the course of four years at Carolina to be used for education opportunities. The total value of the scholarship over the four years is approximately $80,000 for in-state resdients and $140,000 for out-of-state residents. The scholarship is conferred solely on the basis of merit. Financial need is not considered in the selection. Applicants must be competitive applicants to the University of North Carolina at Chapel. To be selected, the applicant must demonstrate: 1) Moral force of character; 2) Scholarship; 3) Physical Vigor; and 4) Leadership. For more information on nominating or applying, see the foundation web site.

Summer Enrichment Program

Instituted in 1974, this first-of-its-kind program is now the centerpiece of the Morehead-Cain: four summers, fully-funded and strategically designed to broaden perspective, deepen understanding, and accelerate life experience. Scholars receive a stipend each summer to cover all expenses, including travel and housing. The program comprises four diverse, customized experiences and opportunities for scholars to understand more about the world and themselves: 1) Outdoor Leadership: the summer before their freshman year, scholars independently select and participate in one of more than fifty courses offered by Outward Bound or National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS); 2) Public Service: the second summer directs scholars' attention outward to the needs surrounding them by giving them eight to ten weeks to work full-time in hands-on service to others; 3) International Research: the third summer scatters scholars across the globe to dig into an arena of personal interest - academic or professional. Scholars customize the summer by choosing either to conduct an independent, in-depth research project or to explore, hands-on, a business or organization through an internship. Lasting anywhere from five to twelve weeks, the International Research summer cultivates and rewards intellectual depth and curiosity; 4) Private Enterprise: the summers culminate with scholars choosing from a wide variety of corporate or government internships. Scholars try on professional life, gaining valuable first-hand experience and personal mentoring from top executives in their field.

Fields of Interest

  • Higher education
  • Philanthropy
  • University education
International Interests
  • Canada
  • England
Population Groups
  • Academics

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-06-30

Assets: $216,528,523 (market value)

Gifts received: $1,404,646

Expenditures: $11,841,227

Total giving: $7,438,745

Qualifying distributions: $8,875,615