Then and Now: Realizing a Vision for Science Philanthropy in America

It began with a group of women who focused upon the future.

Living in Los Angeles in an era of fascination with space exploration, those envisioning a US space program were startled by the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in October 1957.  A small Soviet satellite, in orbit around Earth at the height of the Cold War, fascinated and alarmed America.

What could be done to elevate our own nation's scientific leadership?

It was an ambitious question for a small local group to be asking.  But the women who asked it were already leaders in educational philanthropy.  They knew the power that scholarship funding could have: support of graduate school scholarships for science students could make a diference, both now and in the future.

In 1958 this group of visionary women volunteers met with California Institute of Technology President Lee DuBridge. Together they created a unique partnership between science and society.  ARCS Foundation would soon become a model for women's science educational philanthropy.

The goal of ARCS Foundation was announced on the CalTech campus in Pasadena, CA on September 18, 1958:

". . . raise money for scholarships and fellowships (now known as Scholar Awards) . . . for the support of both undergraduate and graduate students."

Focusing on science by investing in scientists, science student graduate school scholarships would soon be seen as a targeted, effective way to further science philanthropy in America.  ARCS Foundation also brought stronger focus to women's leadership in science philanthropy as the organization grew nationally.

Initially focused upon its US space program contribution, the Houston and Washington, D.C. Chapters were established, with each Chapter cultivating strong relationships, raising funds and supporting scholars from leading universities in their home states.

As the primary implementers of ARCS Foundation mission, Chapters unite with the national organization as advocates for education and research, and to engage public awareness of science challenges and successes.

ARCS Foundation is still a group of women focused on the future, proud of its dynamic history of giving and growing.  As of 2014, ARCS Foundation has grown to 1,500 members in 16 Chapters across the United States, all of whom dedicate volunteer hours and financial support on behalf of graduate students of science.

Since its founding, ARCS Foundation has provided more than 9,600 graduate students of science with awards totaling nearly $100 million. Though the areas of science, engineering and medical research have expanded beyond the focus of the US space program contribution, the parameters established by our steadfast founders still guide us today in the realization of our mission.

ARCS Foundation Celebrates 50 Years of Advancing Science in America