Annual Letter ’15

 

January 2015

Dear Friends,

The Dewan Foundation completed a record-breaking year in 2014.  We made a total of 44 grants (more than in any previous year) for a total of $252,036 (significantly more than last year’s record-high amount).  Once again, support for the Foundation’s largest grantee, an educational and residential program serving poor children in Liberia, West Africa, was a driving force for grant making.  It was a particularly difficult year in that country as the population, already desperately needy, contended with the deadly Ebola epidemic.

There was a re-alignment of staff activity during the year.  We completed a tremendously successful seven-year engagement of board service and grant writing with one of our core grantees serving the homeless.  It was gratifying that this program reached a new plateau in its development, attributable at least in part, to Dewan Foundation involvement and support.

A narrower scope for staff activity was the reason for a greater number of grants and for seven new grants made to organizations the Dewan Foundation has not previously supported.  There was a particular emphasis on U.S. non-profits working overseas where the modest size of our grants can have a significant impact.  We branched out to countries where we have never been involved before.  These included efforts to provide vocational training in the hospitality industry to disadvantaged young people living near a World Heritage Site in Cambodia, a business development training effort in the arid, rural region of northwest Kenya and an after school project for needy children in a small village in El Salvador.  Complementing these projects was another effort in Guatemala where we have several other grantees.  The new project is a bee-keeping social enterprise designed to assist rural farmers diversify their income from coffee growing after a two-year battle with the roya leaf rust.

In the Chicago area, the Dewan Foundation provided support for two grantees new to us.  One provides legal services to the homeless; the other provides outreach and crisis intervention to runaway and homeless teenagers.

The Foundation’s grant writing efforts were well rewarded in 2014.  Our proposal writing generated awards of $211,900.  We also achieved something of an historical milestone as the number of individual awards for our grant writing since 2002 reached 100.  During this 13-year time period, we prepared more than one proposal, application or funding letter each and every month, 237 submissions in all.  Dewan Foundation grant writing generated a tremendous return on investment of time and resources over the years yielding a total of $3.276 million in grants.

January 2015 marks the 15 year anniversary of the Dewan Foundation.  From the beginning, the emphasis has been to provide direct service to people in poverty.  In this effort, the Dewan Foundation has been a deep-value investor seeking out charitable organizations in the business of personal transformation that focus on creating new opportunities and new possibilities for the most neglected and marginalized people in society.

Since our beginning, we have made grants to 142 different organizations for a total of $1,753,915.

With a limited size and scale, the Dewan Foundation has directed most of its grants to smaller organizations in which a few thousand dollars can make an important difference.  These organizations have frequently been at the beginning of their development.  Supporting a newer organization with potential for a productive future has been considered a particular achievement.

Our strategy has been to identify charitable organizations in which there is the potential for a long-term relationship, and then become a steadfast supporter.  Although an individual grant may be small, the cumulative impact of regular renewals has proven to be considerable.  The added benefit is the relationship between the Dewan Foundation and grantee managers and staff, and the satisfaction of observing the process of growth and development over the years.

Most important, grant making goes far beyond a mere paper exercise of proposal reading and writing checks.  Grant proposals are the starting point for an extended conversation.  We want to understand in detail how programs operate and why particular interventions were selected.  We are interested in the interplay between strategy, process and outcome.  It is an intensive, extra effort beyond what is required, but it adds quality and confidence to grant decisions.

The intent is that this work will set the tone for future generations to carry on Dewan family philanthropy.

We are continually grateful to our friends and supporters for their encouragement.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

John and Susan Dewan Foundation