2019 Grantmaking Update

A Fresh Look at Eligibility?

I have read the February 2018 article on the Fund’s website titled “A Fresh Look at Eligibility: Hearing Jessie Ball duPont’s Voice in a Changing World.” How does President Kuraishi view the decision to fund organizations in addition to those supported by Jessie Ball duPont during her lifetime? How might this decision coupled with the change of leadership impact the Fund’s grant making going forward? In what way(s), if any, has the Fund’s grant awarding criteria changed as a result of the decision to expand its grant making activity?

Mari Kuraishi

Mrs. duPont wanted the Fund’s resources to help individuals and communities in Delaware, Virginia, and Florida, putting them on a path to a better life. For this purpose, the will was drafted with considerable discretion given to the trustees to be responsive to a changing world. Outside of that clear, but broad mandate, her will states that named organizations (including those doing work outside of Delaware, Virginia, and Florida) are eligible to apply for funding. These parameters have been in Mrs duPont’s will since 1976.

As to how I look at these parameters, I regard these parameters to be binding, and the work of strategy to figure out the best way to make use of the Fund’s resources to meet this mandate.

For my part I will be looking to see how the Fund’s resources may be best deployed to serve the needs of individuals and communities in the 3 named states so that they may lead a better life. To do that we will make sure to take into account all the great work that is being carried out by nonprofits and philanthropists and communities themselves in the areas named in the mandate. I’d like to try and make sure that we are putting the Fund’s resources to the highest possible use–to get the greatest impact for each dollar, and I’d like to try and make sure that we do so well within the bounds of the professional and administrative resources of the Fund.

To craft this strategy, the Trustees, staff, and I need to understand what the history of the Fund’s grantmaking tells us about what we do well, and we need to understand the needs of the communities Mrs duPont wanted us to serve. I am eager to visit and learn from grantees and how they see the needs of these communities.

To date, there has been no change in the Fund’s grant criteria or decision making. Award decisions are still made on the merit and strength of the proposal.

Direction of Changes?
  1. Can  you give us a sneak peek of the general direction the Fund may be considering in terms of revamping competitive grants?
  2. Might the competitive grants be discontinued or maybe continued in a different form with different goals for helping grantees?
  3. Will you be considering restructuring the funding range for competitive grants?

Mari Kuraishi

No sneak peeks allowed, as honestly we have not had any time to think about what direction we are looking into.

The goals remain evergreen–to provide temporary relief and assistance for individuals and communities in Delaware, Virginia, and Florida–per Mrs duPont’s will. How we do so is something that both the Trustees and staff are keen to hone and improve, as the Fund has done many times over the years. So anything related to the how is subject to improvement.

Are previously eligible grantees (those is Mrs. duPont’s will) safe to assume that we will remain eligible to submit competitive grant requests once they come back online?

Mari Kuraishi

By the terms of the will they are eligible in perpetuity to receive grants.

May we apply for a competitive grant prior to May 16 if our current grant is not quite completed?

Mari Kuraishi

Currently there are no rules prohibiting grantees from submitting a proposal for consideration even if there is an active grant. Please contact your program officer.

Will the Jessie Ball duPont Fund consider proposals for multi-year grants in the 2019 grant cycle or for one-year grants only?

Mari Kuraishi

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund will only consider one-year grants in 2019.

Are we required/encouraged to talk with a program officer first?

Mari Kuraishi

Yes, grantees are still required to have a conversation with their program officer prior to submitting a draft of their proposal.

Is the May 16th the only date we can apply for a grant?

Mari Kuraishi

No, please login to the grantee portal to view the up-to-date timeline, but there are opportunities in March, April and May to submit a proposal. May 16th is the last day a final proposal for competitive grants can be submitted for 2019.

That said, our small grants program continues to accept proposals throughout 2019.

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A message from Mari Kuraishi,
President of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund

Dear Grantee,

As you may know, I joined the Jessie Ball duPont Fund as president in January 2019. I received heartfelt welcomes from many of you and sincerely look forward to meeting in person later this year and beyond.

My purpose in writing to you is to announce May 16, 2019 as the final deadline for 2019 competitive grant applications. It is my hope that this gives those of you considering a competitive grant request this year adequate time to work with our team to submit a proposal and receive a trustee review and decision.

This is a temporary pause only as it relates to competitive grant requests. Our small grants (i.e., Technical Assistance, Feasibility, and Small But Great) will continue uninterrupted.

All final competitive grant decisions for 2019 will be made by the trustee meeting on June 28th. And we will, of course, notify you of the outcomes as soon as possible, as is our practice.

This pause is something we are undertaking in this moment of transition to sharpen our strategy, our theory of change, our metrics, and our ability to measure our impact. We plan to take time to visit and listen to grantees, enabling staff and trustees to reflect on how we, together, can build upon past successes and accomplishments. We anticipate sharing the outcomes of our reflection with you in January 2020 and resuming grantmaking thereafter.

I realize this is a change, and you are likely wondering about exactly how this will play out. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, I invite you to submit questions that might come to mind during the next week. You can directly enter your questions into the website information page we have set up here.

I will respond to your questions in a live streaming video webinar at 1:00 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, February 21st. The webinar will be recorded so those of you who do not watch it live can do so later. We will also post a written record of the Q & A.

The information page on our website where you can submit questions and register for the webinar is here:

I very much look forward to communicating further with you on the 21st, and I look forward to learning more about your communities, especially on site visits, throughout the year. The good in the world that the Fund can take credit for is the work of our grantees—your work—and we all want to see more of it.

Best Wishes,

Mari Kuraishi
President