The Laidlaw Foundation invests in the education of the underprivileged and underrepresented in order to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequality and develop a new generation of leaders. By bringing together a group of international scholars, Laidlaw programmes create an exciting, diverse and inspirational learning environment. Those taking part in these initiatives will gain knowledge in a chosen field while developing the essential skills, behaviours and techniques to be part of the new generation of leaders.

The Foundation currently supports the Laidlaw Schools Trust, a growing multi-academy trust in the North East of England, serving children and families in Newcastle, Sunderland, and Sedgefield; funds the Laidlaw Scholars, an international programme supporting undergraduates in 17 universities around the world, designed to develop a new generation of diverse, passionate and committed leaders; and enables London Business School and Oxford University's Saïd Business School to help more women gain their MBAs. To date, the Foundation has assisted more than 300 women to enrol in business school. The Foundation has funded the Laidlaw Music Centre at the University of St. Andrews, built the Laidlaw Library at Leeds University and is exploring new campus spaces which bring together academics and entrepreneurs.

In 2021, the Foundation also launched Laidlaw Scholars Ventures - a venture capital fund backed by $50m which invests in businesses led by Laidlaw Scholars committed to acting with integrity.