Dominion Foundation: Grants for STEM Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Dominion Resources, Inc., is a power and energy company. Its foundation focuses on education, environmental stewardship, community development, social services, and arts and culture in the states in which it works 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 supports STEM higher education from multiple angles, but only within certain regions. Also 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. Higher education is the biggest piece of that pie, and STEM education is a main emphasis within the foundation's higher education giving—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 slice of the foundation’s giving pie.  

The Dominion Foundation's Higher Education Partnership accounts for a large portion of this education giving. It supports six different "target areas." Four of these fall squarely in the STEM education realm. The foundation describes them as follows:

  • 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." 

Though they are few in number, a handful of 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."

Award amounts for the Environment and Education programs generally average $25,000, but range from $10,000 to $50,000. Recent higher education STEM grantees have run the gamut from community colleges to major university centers, and can be viewed by visiting this page.

A major advantage for qualifying applicants is that Dominion hosts an open application process - but it’s a rigorous one.

The Dominion Foundation is explicit and direct in explaining what it is looking for in its higher education applicants, including how they will and won't cover equipment and operational expenses. 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 and that it "meets a compelling need," has community support, will "reach a significant number of students," and will be thoroughly planned, documented and evaluated. The foundation's website provides sample grants to emulate.

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.

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