Guiding Principles






The Kavli Foundation’s mission is to advance science for the benefit of humanity. Everything we do is guided by the vision of our founder, Fred Kavli, the mission of the foundation, and its values.

Through a distinct endowment model, we provide funding to establish research institutes globally in astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics—fields that we believe provide the greatest opportunity for major breakthroughs with long-range benefits for science and society – and also through initiatives and exploratory projects in our Science and Science and Society Programs.

While we do not accept unsolicited proposals, we do design and support initiatives and select efforts that align with our guiding principles and strategic areas of focus.


Our values reflect the character and philosophy of the foundation’s mission and are inspired by our founder, Fred Kavli – a risk-taker, an entrepreneur, a curious individual inspired by the natural world and a champion for science. These values, along with our Code of Conduct, guide our work every day and help us make our mission – advancing science for the benefit of humanity – a reality.

  • Partner to Advance Science
    Advancing science for the benefit of humanity requires partnerships. We partner with leading academic institutions; scientific organizations, academies and societies; expert scientists and science communicators; governments; and philanthropists to exchange ideas and leverage each other’s strengths and resources to push the frontiers of science.
  • Take the Long View
    Science takes time and works in unexpected ways. Benefits are not always known or immediately seen. The beauty of research is in the journey and in the serendipitous discoveries that can change our lives. We practice patient philanthropy, endowing research institutes and investing in initiatives that look far into the future. We are committed to the possibilities and potential impact in the long term.
  • Be Adventurous
    As a young man our founder immigrated from Norway to America, hoping to create something with long-range benefit for humankind. He dreamt big, took risks and was steadfast in his goals. In that same spirit, we embrace taking a path less traveled and seek ways in which we can make a unique difference, knowing when to move early and quickly to ignite action and fuel sustained progress. We are fearless in our pursuit of science and encourage our partners to be the same.
  • Act Globally
    Science has no boundaries. Discoveries happen throughout the world, with the potential to benefit people everywhere. Providing scientists the freedom to explore the potential in astrophysics, theoretical physics, nanoscience and neuroscience; stimulating interdisciplinary collaboration; engaging the public in science; and celebrating breakthroughs internationally is a critical part of achieving our mission.
  • Embrace Diversity
    Our foundation and the success of the scientific enterprise depends on diverse perspectives and experiences. We champion respectful and dynamic discussions among employees and our partners about opportunities and challenges, successes and lessons to strengthen our collective thinking and action and help us succeed in our mission to advance science for the benefit of humanity.

Code of Conduct

How we operate and conduct ourselves matters. We follow the principles below when carrying out the work and affairs of the foundation.

  • Be Guided by Our Mission and Values
    We are committed to the foundation values and use them as a guide in our decision-making and approaches to our work. We uphold the mission of the foundation and the vision of our founder, and endeavor to make them a reality.
  • Be Respectful and Professional
    We are mindful of our interactions, appreciate and listen to differing points of view, respect confidentiality and the values and ideas of others. We act in a courteous, professional and equitable manner, and hold ourselves to the same standards we ask of others. We are conscious ambassadors of the foundation.
  • Be Accountable
    We operate with integrity, honesty and a commitment to the highest standards of ethical, moral and legal conduct in accordance with state and federal law. We are good stewards of our founder’s legacy and use the resources he entrusted to us wisely.
  • Be Empowered to Report Misconduct
    We are attuned to our individual and collective conduct and speak up when we have concerns. We report conduct or activities that violate the law, foundation policy and our Code of Conduct. We provide procedures for investigation and prohibit retaliation against those who raise issues and hold us accountable.


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