The Dewan Foundation continued a robust grant making effort in 2021 following a record-setting level of activity in 2020. The Foundation made grants to 49 different charitable organizations for a total of $ 255,714.
There was a significant commitment to three local Catholic schools with innovative approaches not only to education but also to the long-term success of students as they pursue higher education and a career. These schools received a total of $132,500 from the Dewan Foundation.
Twenty-four Chicago-based programs received a total of $ 56,499 from the Foundation, mostly to provide services to the homeless. In addition, one new program was added that provides services outside the Chicago area.
The Foundation made grants to 21 programs working outside the USA that engaged in a variety of education and economic development efforts for a total of $65,715.
The impact of the worldwide pandemic was much in evidence in our overseas grant making as a number of long-term grantees closed or re-organized their work, and a few others suspended operations along with the closure of schools in their localities.
We were able to add a few new programs to our portfolio with organizations that hold the potential to be long-term partners. These included a grassroots community-based organization on Chicago’s South side that provides education support to young people, a primary care clinic in Haiti that has become an economic engine for the local community and a small Catholic religious congregation that has taken on responsibility to manage and staff a number of primary and middle schools in rural Guatemala.
The Dewan Foundation is able to add new programs because of a commitment to being open and accessible. Whereas many family foundations restrict grants to pre-selected organizations, the Dewan Foundation accepts inquiries and proposals on an open and continuous basis. However, because of our modest scale, we must be highly selective in choosing new grantees.
Current status as a USA tax-exempt non-profit organization is our most important selection criteria. This guarantees a large pool of potential grantees as well as providing some assurance of the legitimate character of the organization. Utilizing the Internal Revenue Service as a partner in our due diligence effort is a good strategy for our modest grant making operation.
Additionally, we focus on smaller organizations that can’t attract the attention of major institutional funders. In the case of our overseas grantees, we are particularly interested in those organizations that have continuing partnerships with local people in some of the most disadvantaged locations in the world. Finally, we focus on serving the most in need.
An important objective in the Foundation’s grant making strategy is to develop lasting relationships. In the last year, 80 % of our grants were awarded to organizations with whom we have had a grant making relationship spanning three years or more. In a couple of cases, the relationship goes back to the very first grants we made 20 years ago.
With a laser focus on organizations that we assess to be strong candidates for a lasting grant relationship, the Dewan Foundation has added just twelve new grantees in the last five years with whom we now have an ongoing partnership.
In spite of a very selective process for new grants, the number of inquiries about funding has grown as the list below demonstrates.
Funding Inquiries and Proposals Received
Unfortunately, there are many needs we simply can’t address. All the more reason to focus our process around the things we can do successfully.
We deeply appreciate your interest and support as we continue this work.
The Board of Directors
John and Sue Dewan Foundation