Jessie Ball duPont Fund: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The duPont Fund makes grants to small liberal arts colleges across the United States for efforts including capital campaigns, student retention efforts, and "green" projects such as improving campus energy efficiency.

IP TAKE: The foundation exclusively limits higher education grants to the 42 liberal arts colleges that received funding from Jessie Ball duPont during her lifetime. Applicants must network in order to get on this funder’s radar.

PROFILE: The Jessie Ball duPont Fund was endowed by duPont’s estate upon her death in 1970. The fund seeks “to expand access and create opportunity by investing in people, organizations, and communities that were important to Jessie Ball duPont.” Namely, this refers to 322 non-profit organizations and religious groups and 42 colleges that duPont supported with grants from 1960 to 1964. The foundation believes that communities are stronger when “public, private and philanthropic resources are invested to build the assets of individuals, families and neighborhoods,” and that “citizens have both the right and the responsibility to participate fully in public debate about the distribution of resources, opportunities and assets intended to serve the common good.” Its three program areas are Building Organizational Capacity, Building Assets of People, Families, and Communities, and Promoting Civil Society.

The Building Organizational Capacity program is intended to “assist with strategic planning, financial development, succession planning, professional development and facilities management,” as well as provide “small-dollar feasibility and technical assistance grants to help organizations inform decision-making and overcome obstacles.”

Building Assets of People, Families, and Communities supports projects that “help individuals and families build their financial assets,” “provide young people access to work opportunities that prepare them for success,” or “help low-wealth and first-generation students pursue post-secondary education.”

Promoting Civil Society primarily supports “research, to help communities better understand, fund and advocate for their nonprofit sectors” and “[a]ctivities within communities to help citizens solve problems and achieve shared goals.” Grantseekers should review the foundation’s Past Grants to get a better idea of its grantmaking habits.

Grants range from $20,000 to $100,000, occasionally offer substantially more on an individual basis. The foundation restricts its grantmaking to organizations on its Eligibility List; however, it occasionally allows eligible organizations to partner with non-eligible ones for special projects. Beyond higher education, independent pre-collegiate schools, nonprofits, and religious organizations are also eligible for grants. From time to time, the fund will also give unsolicited disaster relief grants.

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