Dominion Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Dominion Foundation focuses on education, environmental stewardship, community development, social services, and arts and culture in the states it works in and serves. Education grants are awarded in the areas of Business, Craft, Engineering, the Environment, Energy, and Technical fields. A handful of higher ed grants are also awarded through the foundation's Environmental Stewardship program. 

IP TAKE: The Dominion Foundation is deeply committed to supporting higher education from multiple angles, as long as you're applying from a post-secondary educational institution. When you do apply, be sure to have all your ducks in a row—the foundation will only award your college or university one grant per cycle.

PROFILE: Dominion is a U.S. energy provider and transporter. Like many companies of its kind, it also runs a foundation, and the Dominion Foundation (previously called the Consolidated Natural Gas Company Foundation) works toward "improving the physical, social and economic well-being of the communities served by Dominion companies."

Education is one of the Dominion Foundation’s cornerstones, and higher education is the biggest piece of that pie—particularly in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia (see all the details of geography here). In one recent year, education giving totaled $3.6 million—the biggest of the foundation's giving categories.

The Dominion Foundation's Higher Education Partnership accounts for a large portion of its education giving, supporting six different "target areas" that all relate to the foundation's corporate parent, which the foundation describes as follows:

  • Business: Business practices, accounting, finance, or economics 
  • Craft: Welding trades, power line or pipeline construction/maintenance 
  • Engineering: Chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, petroleum and natural gas, or nuclear engineering 
  • Environment: Environmental sciences and study of the environment 
  • Energy: Exploration of alternative energies or student-led conservation projects 
  • Technical: Information systems, electronics, control trades, power plant operations, and electrical technicians

More broadly, the foundation seeks to award "exceptional programs, based in part on having immediate benefits for students, the campus and the community." Note the language here—the foundation almost exclusively supports colleges and universities.

Though they are very small in number, a few colleges and universities have also received funding through Dominion's Environmental Stewardship Grants program. This program emphasizes "specific, short-term projects that promise measurable results to improve the environment" through "Protecting and preserving natural habitats," "Improving open spaces," "Making nature accessible," or "Educating the public about environmental stewardship."

For both programs, grant amounts generally average $25,000 and range up to $50,000. Recent higher education STEM grantees have ranged from community colleges to major university centers and can be viewed by visiting this page.

A major advantage for qualifying applicants is Dominion's open application process, but it is a rigorous one. Note that the foundation will not cover equipment or operational expenses, and grants are always for a single year. Also be sure to get your application in during the application period, which varies by grant program.

The Dominion Foundation is explicit about what it is looking for in its higher education applicants. Applicants are expected to clearly describe the proposed program, target population, anticipated outcomes, evaluation methods, and plans for sustainability beyond the grant period. Moreover, grantseekers should be able to demonstrate how the program is innovative, provides "practical application," and prove that it will be thoroughly planned, documented, and evaluated. The foundation's website provides sample grants to emulate. 

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