The collapse of the FTX exchange and its subsidiaries in November 2022 also led to the shutdown of its philanthropic arm, FTX Future Fund. The philanthropic arm had pledged $1 billion in donations in 2022 towards research academics across prestigious universities. However, the team behind the project resigned right after FTX filed for bankruptcy on Nov. 11, 2022.
Many scholars and researchers who were early recipients of the grant are now stuck in limbo over payment of further grants for their programs. According to a report published by Reuters, many Ph.D. students who were studying on the FTX grant were forced to drop out of the course owing to the fear of repayment.
A summary of the FTX Future Fund’s activities revealed that the fund was sponsored by former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. The focus of the grant revolved around research projects for the safe development of artificial intelligence, reducing catastrophic bio-risk, improving institutions, economic growth, great power relations, and effective altruism, among many others.
1/ We’re thrilled to announce the FTX Foundation’s Future Fund. We make grants and investments to ambitious projects to improve humanity’s long-term prospects.
We plan to deploy >$100M this year, and potentially a lot more (in principle up to $1B).https://t.co/kIWdm48LZ4
— Future Fund (@ftxfuturefund) February 28, 2022
According to the report, a total of 20 academics from prestigious colleges, including Cornell, Princeton, and Brown in the United States, as well as Cambridge in Britain, received grants from the FTX philanthropy arm totaling more than $100,000 each. Further calculations based on these announcements suggest university-affiliated research initiatives got a total of more than $13 million.
Many of these academics who received the first grant have now found themselves in a tricky situation with the next due date for fee submission already passed. As a result, many of the students were forced to drop out of the program after the first year.
Others who did receive a full grant have found themselves in an ethical battle over whether to use the grant or return the funds, which might be part of stolen customers’ funds, as per the lawsuit against the crypto exchange and its founders.
While FTX asked recipients of payments from the debtors in the FTX bankruptcy filing to return their funds in an announcement, it didn’t specifically mention FTX Futures Funds. However, a lawyer based in the U.S. suggested that it will depend on the FTX trustee and their willingness to claw back small amounts, including philanthropic ones.