One in three women are diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, which is why the Mary Kay Ash Foundation is dedicated to eliminating cancers affecting women.

In 1987, Mary Kay Ash, who lost her husband, Mel Ash, to lung cancer in 1980, decided to put her money where her heart was and asked employees at Mary Kay Inc. and Independent Beauty Consultants to do the same. Together, they began raising funds for cancer research, and in 1996 she established the foundation to formalize the raising and distributing of research funds for cancers affecting women.

Research enhances our understanding of cancer and helps us find and develop better, more effective treatments, earlier detection and better outcomes for women facing a cancer diagnosis. Annually, the Mary Kay Ash Foundation is proud to support programs and services of organizations providing care to those affected by a cancer diagnosis, translational cancer research grants, clinical trials for cancers affecting women, and the International Postdoctoral Scholars in Cancer Research Fellowship in collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.


In July 2000, the Mary Kay Ash Foundation embraced a second mission: to prevent violence against women after hearing the heartbreaking stories of those in the Mary Kay Independent Sales Force and surrounding community who were deeply impacted by this issue.

That mission took on added urgency in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to increased instances of domestic violence across the world. The World Health Organization reported in April 2020 that as people were asked to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, the risk of intimate partner violence was likely to increase. Women in abusive relationships were more likely to be exposed to violence, as were their children, as family members spent more time in close contact, and families coped with additional stress and potential economic or job losses.

The Mary Kay Ash Foundation is committed to ending the epidemic of violence against women by providing grants to women’s shelters and supporting community outreach programs. Domestic violence shelters provide safe, temporary homes for women and children escaping imminent danger due to domestic violence. Innovative programs help to empower women so that they can live a life free from abuse.