Welcome to the Cosmos Club Foundation, created by Cosmos Club members in 1967 as a tax-exempt and legally distinct organization charged specifically to advance science, literature, and the arts and humanities through awards and grants for charitable and educational purposes.
The Cosmos Club itself was founded in 1878 for the advancement of its members in science, literature, and art and "their mutual improvement by social intercourse." The activities of the Foundation are not designed to be of direct benefit to the Club, although some do affect the Club. Trustees are appointed by the Cosmos Club's Board of Management.
The Foundation's largest activity, begun in 1998, is a program of small research grants for graduate students enrolled in selected universities in the Washington, D.C. area. Foundation trustees receive 200 or more applications each autumn and rank them based on merit and the likelihood of significant research results. The process is very selective; only about 10% of the proposals submitted are funded, and they are of such high quality that the results of the research are likely to be widely recognized. Recipients are designated ‘Cosmos Scholars’. The program thus has a two-fold public benefit—graduate-student assistance and increase in knowledge.
Trustees are pleased that several grant recipients have presented their results at major professional meetings and published their research in leading journals such as Science. About a year after receipt of their grant, grantees are invited to present the results of their research at a dinner hosted at the Club by the Foundation. Grantees from previous years are also invited. We expect to see many of these alumni/ae become members of the Club one day.
In separate programs, the Foundation honors achievement by recognizing contributions of outstanding individuals. The endowment income permits two John P. McGovern Awards (and award ceremonies at which the recipients speak about their work) per year. The recognition afforded by these awards rotates among the arts and humanities, literature, and science. Recent awardees include E.L. Doctorow, Sir Derek Jacobi, Steven Squyres, and Michael Frayn. Most McGovern Awardees are not members of the Club. Members of the public are invited to the award ceremonies, which are held in the Clubhouse. The Foundation has for many years provided financial support for the recognition portion of the annual Cosmos Club Award. Recent recipients have been Sandra Day O'Connor, Jacob Rabinow, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Jim Lehrer.
The Foundation has endowed an annual chamber music concert at the Phillips Collection; a small number of tickets for this event are made available through the Foundation. The Trustees have also cosponsored a concert at the Club and two mental-health counseling workshops for D.C- School System personnel.
The Cosmos Club Foundation is recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service. Gifts to the Foundation are eligible for tax deductibility to the donor. The Foundation's only support comes from its modest endowment and from gifts made by Club members and the public, including charitable foundations. Of the annual expenditures, 88% directly support programs and only 12% are used for auditing, insurance, printing, mailing, and the website. Trustees serve without compensation. Continuing and increased support will be required for the Foundation to maintain and expand its programs in the future.