Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CDC Foundation?

Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do more, faster, by forging effective partnerships between CDC and corporations, foundations, organizations and individuals to fight threats to health and safety. The CDC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity.

When was the Foundation created?

In 1992, Congress passed legislation authorizing the creation of an independent, nonprofit foundation to support CDC. A board of directors was elected in 1994, and, in 1995, the board recruited Charles Stokes as executive director. That same year, the CDC Foundation opened its doors for business in the Hurt Building in downtown Atlanta. 

What is the CDC Foundation’s relationship with CDC?

The CDC Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges partnerships between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private-sector organizations. Classified as a 501(c)(3) public charity, the Foundation is the sole entity authorized by Congress to raise private funds in support of the mission and work of CDC. To ensure that the Foundation remains independent from CDC, its founding legislation prohibits the CDC director or other CDC employees from sitting on the Foundation board. However, Foundation leaders work closely with CDC leaders and scientists to ensure that the organization’s overall strategic direction and portfolio of programs and activities have the greatest possible impact for CDC and public health.

How big is the Foundation?

The CDC Foundation currently employs about 130 employees (approximately half are field employees). The CDC Foundation raised $43,788,246 in funds and in-kind donations in fiscal year 2016-2017. 

What are your sources of funding?

As a private 501(c)(3) public charity, the CDC Foundation receives charitable contributions and philanthropic grants from individuals, foundations, corporations, universities, NGOs and other organizations to advance the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike many large foundations, the CDC Foundation does not have a large endowment to support our activities. The CDC Foundation builds an administrative fee, typically 16 percent, into each grant or agreement to support administrative costs. Through Congressional authorization, CDC also contributes some funds to the Foundation annually to help cover operational costs. (View the CDC Foundation’s Donor Reports and Financials.) For ten consecutive years, the CDC Foundation has received the highest, 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, which annually assesses fiscal responsibility and financial health of charitable organizations. Only 1 percent of charities rated have received ten consecutive 4-star evaluations.

How does the CDC Foundation add value for CDC?

The CDC Foundation helps CDC pursue innovative ideas that might not be possible without the support of external partners. The support needed is most often funding, but also can include expertise, information or introductions to additional partners. CDC Foundation partnerships help CDC launch new programs, expand existing programs that show promise, or establish a proof of concept through a pilot project before scaling it up. In each partnership, external support gives CDC the flexibility to quickly and effectively connect with other experts, information and technology needed to address a public health challenge.

How are programs with external partners initiated?

Many partnership ideas originate from CDC scientists and other staff who see the value in collaborating with partners to extend CDC’s public health priorities. Other times, organizations in the philanthropic and private sectors recognize they can better accomplish their own health goals by working with CDC through the CDC Foundation to improve the public’s health. The CDC Foundation facilitates collaboration between the private and government sector through open dialogue, developing partnerships to leverage cross-sector resources, and sharing expertise.

The CDC Foundation constantly innovates and advances the art and science of collaboration and effective program management to bring all parties into open, beneficial partnerships that serve the greater good of people and communities.

How do you ensure that a project addresses conflicts of interest for CDC and the CDC Foundation?

The CDC Foundation serves as one vehicle for CDC to partner with the private sector, but we rely on CDC’s governance and policies and its high standards of scientific integrity to guide every partnership we build.

Projects facilitated by the CDC Foundation go through a review and approval process through both the CDC Foundation and CDC leadership at multiple levels to ensure that the project 1) aligns with CDC’s mission and priorities, 2) has appropriate research methodologies, 3) maintains CDC’s research independence and 4) addresses conflicts of interest.

CDC has a gift acceptance policy that each program must adhere to. This policy applies to gifts provided from outside of the agency, including funds provided by the CDC Foundation. The CDC Foundation also has guidelines for partner collaborations that are considered when evaluating project concepts. Guiding Principles for Collaboration 

How do you ensure that CDC's work is not influenced by a single funder or group of funders?

Because CDC is a federal agency, all scientific findings resulting from CDC research are available to the public and open to the broader scientific community for review. Funding for CDC's work provided through the CDC Foundation is not contingent on the outcomes of research or other scientific activity being favorable to one or more partners. The majority of the Foundation’s programs involve use of existing data or dissemination of key messages to extend CDC’s reach beyond activities specifically included in federal appropriations. When the CDC Foundation accepts funding, we execute a legal agreement with partners stating that CDC is responsible for the control of the content. Learn more