The Lincy Foundation is the Institute's name sake and principle source of funding.

The Lincy Foundation was formed by Mr. Kirk Kerkorian in 1989 in response to the devastating earthquake in Spitak, Armenia. Twenty-five thousand people lost their lives in the earthquake as two major cities and 100 villages were completely destroyed. The substantial contributions from The Lincy Foundation provided housing to thousands of displaced individuals and families and reconstruction of roads and other key infrastructure. While it continued to provide support to Armenia, The Lincy Foundation gave generously throughout the United States for over 22 years to support education, medical, social service programs, scientific research projects and many other charitable endeavors.

A self-made man, Mr. Kerkorian is an icon in the history of Las Vegas, having directly created tens of thousands of jobs through his business activities. Kerkorian first ventured into Las Vegas with a stake in the Dunes Hotel in 1955. He built MGM Grand in 1973, sold it and built another MGM Grand in 1993, which became the base of his company, Tracinda Corporation. Until 2011, Kerkorian was the main stockholder of MGM Resorts, International which includes CityCenter, the MGM Grand Resort, the Mirage, and the Bellagio. In addition to Tracinda's Las Vegas holdings, the company has casinos in Mississippi, and Michigan and abroad in Macao. Kerkorian is also well known for his impact on Hollywood through his prior directorship of MGM Studios (1973-2004) and United Artists.

The Lincy Foundation is recognized as a member of the UNLV Foundation's distinguished Palladium Society, the university's highest level of acknowledgment for significant private support to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In February 2011, The Lincy Foundation announced the closure of its operation. Its assets were transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to establish a donor-advised fund referred to as The Dream Fund. The Dream Fund, a flexible source of support for the people and ideas that make this world a better place, is helping address society's most challenging problems.