To all Delaware and southern Chester County, PA Nonprofits:

Happy 2015 to all!

First, some important information – Longwood has changed its grant request submission deadlines to March 1 and September 1. We have also changed our phone number to (302) 683-8200. We welcome your calls to discuss potential grant requests, better understand our grant making process and priorities, or update us on the great work of your organization. Finally, we have added information sessions in February and August designed to help you prepare a stronger grant request. While these are open to all, seats are limited and we will prioritize those who will be submitting a grant request in the upcoming cycle (please contact Joanne Reilly if you would like to participate in one of these sessions).

While the administrative gateways to the Foundation are changing, our mission and basic operations remain the same. We continue to focus on strengthening the communities in Delaware and southern Chester County in Pennsylvania. Our core operation remains a biannual grant making process open to anyone with a 501(c)(3) certificate who touches that geography. We continue to make substantial annual grants to Longwood Gardens — we are impressed with their growth and excited to see the current investment in the renovations of the Fountains come to life.

We are humbled by the responsibility and opportunity left to us by our founder, Pierre S. du Pont. We strive to preserve his legacy and make our community stronger every day. To do this, as we have for many years, we run the aforementioned competitive grant making process in which we welcome requests from any nonprofit impacting our geography. Of late, however, we have come to view this process as more than a means to efficiently distribute philanthropic investments in the community. We also see it as a source of the community’s best ideas. As such, we are trying to glean synergies and new opportunities from the accumulated grant requests.

The most recent opportunity to emerge is in leadership development. After grants made to Teach for America (TFA) and Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), we have discovered that Delaware has a growing annual cohort of leaders in their twenties (it will grow to be over two hundred people each year) – most of whom are here in short term programs (two years or less) and most of whom will leave us if we don’t make a concerted effort to keep them. We have partnered with the Delaware Business Roundtable, TFA, ISI, Public Allies, and others to develop an annual program called Delaware Talent Live (DTL) designed to attract, develop, and retain these great young leaders. It’s our hope that we can convince many, if not most of them, to stay in Delaware and accelerate their growth into leadership positions in the nonprofit, for profit, and government sectors.

We remain committed to improving Delaware’s educational opportunities — with emphasis on the K-12 system. Specifically, we want to see the academic achievement gap closed and all of our students learn in a system that seeks results that are excellent on an international scale. We are honored that Bank of America chose to work with us to develop the Community Education Building in Wilmington and have designed it to serve low-income Wilmington children – closing the achievement gap for them and pointing them towards international excellence. Separately, we recognize that there are just as many low-income children in Delaware’s southern two counties as there are in Wilmington and seek to support schools there that align with these same objectives.

We recognize that we have a role in supporting “systemic” organizations such as the Delaware Alliance for Non Profit Advancement (DANA) and the Delaware Grantmakers Association. A centralized effort focused on the right outcomes (such as quality governance of nonprofits and effective grant making) can generate a very high return for the community. We are thrilled that Jim Collins will be the keynote speaker at DANA’s annual conference on June 15, 2015. We encourage all of you to attend, but more significantly encourage you to read his “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” monograph and to participate in the roundtable conversations about it that DANA will run this spring.

Finally, we are reminded every day that all of you — our nonprofit, business, and community leaders — do the hard and important work. We are but a support organization with the unique opportunity to identify trends, spotlight and support creative and impactful solutions, nurture developing talent, and watch great things happen. We are grateful for your continued commitment to your constituents and to our community.
Thank you. We wish you a successful and impactful year.

Thère du Pont
Steve Martinenza
Joanne Reilly
Sandee Drew
Lauren Petrusky