OVERVIEW: In New Jersey, the Geraldine Dodge Foundation is an important patron in several areas. Its Education program is divided into arts education and school leadership. The foundation’s other major program areas focus on the Environment, Arts and Informed Communities.
IP TAKE: If your nonprofit benefits students pre-K to 12th grade, especially through arts education that has the potential to transcend academic disciplines and serves low-income communities, the Dodge foundation is an important one to know.
PROFILE: It’s important to state up front that with a few rare exceptions, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation focuses its efforts almost exclusively on the state of New Jersey. Right off the bat, this geographic focus closes the door to most K-12 grantseekers.
For those that do qualify, the Dodge Foundation’s mission is to support “leaders, ideas, and institutions which transcend self-interest and promote a sustainable future.” It has four main funding areas: Arts, Environment, Education and Informed Communities.
Unsurprisingly, the most relevant grant area for K-12 organizations is Dodge’s Education program. Seeking “systemic change” and rooted in a faith “in the transformative power of arts education to substantially improve children’s lives and academic outcomes, and prepare them for 21st century careers,” the Education program is divided into two sub-programs, arts education and school leadership.
In terms of arts education, Dodge is specifically looking for schools, nonprofits and districts that:
- have long-term plans for arts education programs
- “Offer specialized, high-level arts training to help talented low-income students”
- facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration between the arts and STEM curricula (preparing arts teachers to work with STEM colleagues, and vice versa)
- offer data-driven evidence that can be used to advocate for arts education at the policy level.
In the second Education sub-program, leadership, Dodge’s desire is to ensure teacher preparation, provide “access to steady and quality professional development,” and “advance the leadership role of principals and superintendents to improve student learning.”
Potential applicants should note that Dodge funding is directed at nonprofit organizations only, and that school districts and individual applicants are ineligible for funding. Organizations that have close, longstanding relationships with their local districts are especially preferred.
Grants are searchable in the foundation’s database, and have supported teachers and students—especially those from low-income communities—via nonprofits mostly (though not exclusively) providing services related to arts education. Awardees have worked in areas such as musical, dance, and performance experience and training; arts education research; advocacy for equal education access; arts after-school programs; additional fieldwork for pre-service teachers; and incorporation of standards into arts education. Grant amounts have ranged, for the most part, from $10,00 to $100,000, with a few grants going above that.
Eligibility for funding, grant guidelines, and application deadlines from Dodge vary by program as well as whether you are a new applicant or an existing grantee. For first-time grantseekers, the initial step is to fill out an online inquiry form, after which you may be invited to submit a full proposal. Dodge also offers grantseeker workshops that may be worth exploring.
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