Name of Foundation: The Duke Endowment
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Contact Information: To email, send a message through the foundation’s website.
Coverage Area: North Carolina and South Carolina
Subject Area: Child Care, Health Care, Higher Education, Rural Church
Last Year Total Giving: $122,103,272
In a Nutshell:
The Duke Endowment was founded in 1924 by James B. Duke, with a wealth he acquired by growing his father’s tobacco business after the Civil War. He started the organization with $40 million dollars, and then gave it another $67 million dollars upon his unexpected death, less than a year later. Today the Duke Endowment is one of the largest foundations in the country. It is run by a staff of more than thirty people, with Eugene W. Cochran, Jr. at the helm. Its 15-person board is made up of leaders in business, media and education.
Today’s Duke Endowment maintains its founder’s original philanthropic goals: to support health care, higher education, rural churches, and child care in the Carolinas. Though he grew to be known as an industrial tycoon and major philanthropist, these causes all circle back to Duke’s more humble beginnings in North Carolina, largely influenced by family and the Methodist Church. His mother and older brother died from typhoid fever when he was young, and shortly after that his father was drafted to fight in the Civil War.
At this point, he was “taken in by relatives,” which the Duke Endowment’s website credits with planting a soft spot for children in the foster care system in his heart – a soft spot that continues to be upheld by the foundation, which funds “accredited organizations and other select nonprofit groups to help children, who are without the benefit of family support or are at risk of losing such support, reach developmental milestones and prepare for successful transitions to adulthood.”
Major Program Categories:
The foundation’s rural church grants support rural United Methodist congregations’ leadership and development as part of a strategy to expand churches’ outreach and impact across their service areas. The foundation’s relationship with churches has spawned community gardens and helped fight hunger, and has leveraged the faith community to improve healthcare outcomes.
James B. Duke’s philanthropic support of Trinity College transformed the institution into Duke University. However, that happened before the foundation itself was formally founded. The foundation’s current efforts in higher education offer support around campus community and engagement, academic excellence, and educational access and success, according to the website.
In the area of healthcare, the Duke Endowment strives to “accomplish lasting change by working to expand prevention and early intervention programs, to improve the quality and safety of services, and to increase access to care.” Among its healthcare efforts, the foundation has worked with hospitals on projects such as improving transitions out of the hospital to avoid readmission, and has commissioned studies and awareness campaigns around adolescent health and wellness in North and South Carolina.
The Endowment’s “child care” grants focus largely on the child-welfare system and those touched by foster care. Recently, the Endowment has funded a number of projects around the experience of children living in group homes, from their academic performance to improving their wellness. From 2006-2010 it ran a pilot program to measure impacts of group homes, in an attempt to create a standardized model for evaluation.
The foundation has also supported initiatives to provide prevention and recovery services for parents dealing with substance abuse, as well as prevention of teen pregnancy. Finally, its support of Neighbor to Family works to keep siblings together while in foster care. Click here for more information about the Duke Endowment’s grantmaking in the area of child care.
How to Apply:
To apply for a grant in the child care and health care categories, a nonprofit must complete a pre-application and be invited to submit a full application. This process is open twice a year, with pre-application deadlines of June 15 and December 15 – the pre-application is live on the Duke Endowment’s website for six weeks before each deadline.
The same process holds true for rural church grant applications, but with deadlines of March 11 and August 28.
Higher education grants are more of a rolling application process, but are only available to Davidson College, Furman University, Johnson C. Smith University and Duke University. According to the foundation’s website, “staff in the Higher Education program area works with the Endowment’s four eligible institutions to determine when grant requests may be submitted. Typically the Endowment’s Trustees consider new requests from these schools two to three times per year.” Applications must be coordinated through each institution’s grants office.
For more information about the Duke Endowment’s grant process, click here.
Recent News and Grantmaking: