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John Templeton Foundation


Last Updated: 2016-02-09

At A Glance

John Templeton Foundation

300 Conshohocken State Rd., Ste. 500

West Conshohocken, PA United States 19428-3801

Telephone: (610) 941-2828


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

  • Celebrity: Business

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $3,231,688,757

Total giving: $162,661,045






Established in 1988 in TN - Founded by the late Sir John Marks Templeton, an investor who amassed millions in creating and trading on a global basis mutual funds through his Templeton Growth, Ltd. funds (now known as Franklin Templeton Investments).

Purpose and Activities

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. It supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. It encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights. Its vision is derived from the late Sir John Templeton's optimism about the possibility of acquiring “new spiritual information” and from his commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The foundation's motto, "How little we know, how eager to learn," exemplifies its support for open-minded inquiry and its hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.

Program Area(s)

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

Character Development

The program supports a broad range of programs, publications, and studies focused on the universal truths of character development, from childhood through young adulthood and beyond. The qualities of character emphasized by Sir John in the foundation’s charter include awe, creativity, curiosity, diligence, entrepreneurialism, forgiveness, future-mindedness, generosity, gratitude, honesty, humility, joy, love, purpose, reliability, and thrift. The program remains open to other possibilities for extending our activities in the area of character development, especially projects that deal with the crucial relationship between culture (as expressed in beliefs, values, and worldview) and behavior. As Sir John emphasized in the "Laws of Life" that he saw as the key to character development, "When you rule your mind, you rule your world." .

Exceptional Cognitive Talent and Genius

The foundation has made a strong commitment to identifying and nurturing young people who demonstrate exceptional talent in mathematics and science. In the U.S., it has supported accelerated learning for students capable of working well beyond their grade level, and it has funded a number of important national studies of the issue. Internationally, the foundation has sponsored academic training and competitions for students who show extraordinary potential but whose talents might not otherwise be developed, especially because of their economic circumstances or insufficient educational support.

Freedom and Enterprise

For Sir John Templeton, wealth creation was no accident of history. Human societies could experience general prosperity, he believed, only when they recognized and established broad principles of freedom, competition, and personal responsibility. For him, individual freedom was the indispensable foundation of economic, social, and spiritual progress. As one of the most successful investors of modern times, Sir John understood the enormous contribution that free markets and entrepreneurship could make to material improvement. As a student of classical liberalism, from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, he also saw that, without economic freedom, individual freedom was fragile and vulnerable. The foundation supports a range of programs intended to liberate the initiative of individuals and nations and to establish the necessary conditions for the success of profit-making enterprise .


Research in genetics was a longstanding interest of Sir John Templeton, who saw the field’s extraordinary potential for explaining the deepest principles of life’s evolution and for providing large-scale, transformative breakthroughs in fields like medicine and agriculture. He was particularly interested in how major advances in genetics might serve to empower individuals, leading to spiritually beneficial social and cultural changes. The program is still in its early stages and is currently not accepting unsolicited proposals on genetics. .

Grants to Individuals Program

Research grants to scholars of psychology who hold a Ph.D. degree, and awards by nomination only to individuals who show extraordinary originality in advancing humankind's understanding of God.

Science and the Big Questions

Sir John Templeton stipulated that most of the foundation’s resources would be devoted to research about "the basic forces, concepts, and realities" governing the universe and humankind's place in the universe. These include a range of fundamental scientific notions, including complexity, emergence, evolution, infinity, and time. In the moral and spiritual sphere, it extends to such basic phenomena as altruism, creativity, free will, generosity, gratitude, intellect, love, prayer, and purpose. These diverse, far-reaching topics define the boundaries of the ambitious agenda the foundation calls the Big Questions. The foundation has honored Sir John’s vision of the Big Questions by supporting a wide range of research projects, as well as other activities of a more practical or educational purpose, in the following areas: a) Mathematical and Physical Sciences: supporting innovative projects that focus on foundational questions in mathematics or that seek a deeper understanding of the nature of reality within the realm of physics, cosmology, astronomy, chemistry, or other physical sciences. Projects that are unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources are especially encouraged; b) Life Sciences: supporting projects investigating the evolution and fundamental nature of life, human life, and mind, especially as they relate to issues of meaning and purpose. Projects are welcome from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including the biological sciences, neuroscience, archeology, and paleontology; c) Human Sciences: supporting projects that apply the tools of anthropology, sociology, political science, and psychology to the various moral and spiritual concepts identified by Sir John Templeton. These include altruism, creativity, free will, generosity, gratitude, intellect, love, prayer, and purpose; d) Philosophy and Theology: supporting projects that attempt to develop new philosophical and theological insights, especially (but not only) in relation to advances in scientific understanding; and e) Science in Dialogue: supporting projects that bring one or more scientific disciplines into a mutually enriching discussion with theology and/or philosophy, whether for a scholarly audience or the public at large. .

Templeton Prize

The prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. It celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity's efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine. Men and women of any creed, profession, or national origin may be nominated. The qualities sought in a nominee include creativity and innovation, rigor and impact. The judges seek a substantial record of achievement that highlights or exemplifies one of the various ways in which human beings express their yearning for spiritual progress. Consideration is given to a nominee's work as a whole, not just during the year prior to selection. Nominations are especially encouraged in the fields of: 1) Research in the human sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences; 2) Scholarship in philosophy, theology, and other areas of the humanities; 3) Practice, including religious leadership, the creation of organizations that edify and inspire, and the development of new schools of thought; and 4) Commentary and journalism on matters of religion, virtue, character formation, and the flourishing of the human spirit. The prize is a monetary award in the amount of £1,000,000 sterling. For additional information contact: Judith Marchand, Dir., The Templeton Prize Office.

Fields of Interest

  • Economic development
  • Education
  • Health
  • Higher education
  • Leadership development
  • Religion
  • Science
  • University education
  • Youth development
Population Groups
  • Academics

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $3,231,688,757 (market value)

Expenditures: $206,388,915

Total giving: $162,661,045

Qualifying distributions: $185,117,840

Giving activities include:

$162,661,045 for grants

$2,847,276 for foundation-administered programs