A Quick Look at Where Duke Endowment Grants Have Been Going Lately

Pediatric dentistry! Credit: Jonn Leffmann via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)In the Carolinas, the Duke Endowment is known as a prominent higher education funder. However, this major philanthropic force in the Southeast is paying attention to a lot of other issues, too, namely healthcare.

In early May, the funder announced more than $18.2 million in new grant commitments that are focused on the health needs of North and South Carolina residents. There are 30 new grants going to organizations in these two Southeastern states, including $1.5 million to Duke University Health System to develop a caregiver training program for the elderly and $979,000 to Asheville’s Mission Hospital to expand dental care for children.

This funder has a very local focus and one that puts a priority on oral health, especially among children. It also targets underserved minority groups with its grantmaking, such as Latino families in the region. Overall, the endowment focuses its health grantmaking on improving the quality and safety of the health care delivery, increased access to care, and enhanced prevention strategies. As a general rule, it sticks to funding nonprofit hospitals, academic health centers, health education centers, organizations in counties without eligible hospitals, and nonprofit inpatient long-term care facilities.

When I spoke to Charity Perkins at the endowment, she said that the foundation is in a time of transition. In April, President Gene Cochrane announced his retirement, and Rhett Mabry will take over the lead in June. However, Perkins did not anticipate any big changes to accompany this leadership change since the founder was very specific as to the endowment’s purpose 90 years ago.

This grantmaker is unique because it only gives to groups in North Carolina and South Carolina, as that’s where the founder’s tobacco and power industries were located. The endowment is known for giving lots of consistent grants for multiple years at high levels. But, that being said, it is looking for new grantees in a variety of fields.

Topics of current interest include teen pregnancy (a new initiative for this was launched last year) and new healthy nutrition, fitness, and preventative health efforts that are in the works. Nurse family partnerships with nurse visitation models for first-time, low-income mothers are also gaining traction with this funder, and they’re a key issue for the endowment’s new president. The endowment staff takes grant requests to the board on a monthly cycle for monthly board meetings.

The Duke Endowment has awarded over $3.3 billion in grants since 1924. To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile, Duke Endowment Grants.

A good way to keep up with what this funder is doing and interested in at any given moment is to follow its news section, blog, and e-newsletter. Recent topics of interest on these outlets include teen pregnancy, child welfare, and mental health. The endowment is quite active online and on social media, which adds to its refreshing transparency for grantseekers in the region.