The Flinn Foundation operates in four philanthropic areas:
The Foundation has assumed two complementary roles to help Arizona become a global competitor and national leader in select areas of the biosciences. One is to be a strategic investor, partnering with others to support the needs of a rapidly growing bioscience sector. The Foundation has committed about $75 million in grants toward this goal since launching its bioscience initiative in 2002. The second role is to function as an objective resource, facilitating discussions and collaborations among key leaders to achieve the goals outlined in Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap.
Grant projects are intended to further Arizona’s bioscience infrastructure and thereby improve health outcomes of Arizonans and strengthen and diversify Arizona’s economy. Grants aim to build a critical mass of bioscience and biomedical research talent; promote translational research linking the laboratory, clinical research, and patient; and develop partnerships and collaborations to commercialize research discoveries and attract new industry.
The Foundation awards grants in the biosciences primarily on an invitational basis. The Foundation also encourages researchers and companies to apply for its Seed Grants to Promote Translational Research Program and Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program. The seed-grants program each year awards up to 10 research teams with $100,000 grants. Early-stage bioscience firms in Arizona are eligible to apply for a $30,000 award each year administered through a nonprofit partner. Up to six firms are selected annually as participants in the entrepreneurship program.
The Foundation has supported Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the state’s long-term bioscience strategic plan, since commissioning Battelle to compile the plan in conjunction with state bioscience leaders in 2002. The Foundation staffs the steering committee that guides Roadmap strategies.
The Flinn Scholars program, in partnership with Arizona’s public universities, annually awards approximately 20 top Arizona high school graduates an educational package valued at more than $130,000 that covers the full cost of undergraduate study, plus other benefits including study-related travel abroad. The program aims to strengthen the ability of the universities to compete for Arizona’s top students and to provide the students an outstanding academic experience. More than 1,000 students apply every fall for the 20 awards.
The Foundation’s arts and culture funding is anchored by the Initiative for Financial and Creative Health. This program provides funding, technical assistance, and data from SMU DataArts, formerly the Arizona Cultural Data Project, to help organizations identify priority capitalization needs and design strategies to impact those needs. Eligible organizations are those with an annual operating budget of at least $2.5 million or more, 19 at present. SMU DataArts offers a web-based data collection tool designed to strengthen arts and cultural organizations and empower their funders to more effectively plan and evaluate individual and collective grantmaking activities.
In 2011, the Foundation launched the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership to strengthen civic leadership in Arizona. The Center features three components, anchored by the Flinn-Brown Fellowship, which, in partnership with the Thomas R. Brown Foundations, helps to expand the cadre of future state-level leaders with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to address Arizona’s long-term challenges. The other two elements are CivEx (the Arizona Civic Exchange), and the Civic Leadership Collaborative of local and regional leadership programs.