John Deere Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: The John Deere Foundation’s global development grantmaking is centered on boosting the capacity of farmers as a means of developing sustainable solutions to world hunger. Main areas of focus include farmer training, improving value chains, and water access and usage.

IP TAKE: This foundation has established relationships with large international NGOs working in its fields of interest, which makes it difficult for newcomers to gain notice here; however, John Deere's continued commitment to scientific education and food sustainability in the developing world means there are opportunities for organizations that don't mind heading up their own relationship with the foundation.

PROFILE: As the philanthropic arm of its corporate sister John Deere, famous for making tractors and farm equipment, the John Deere Foundation focuses its efforts on creating an environment in which robust, high-tech agriculture can thrive. In the global development space, the John Deere Foundation is a relatively small funder. However, John Deere has financial and charitable interests abroad and invests in international development projects that align with its strategic interests — namely, strengthening education, reducing hunger, and providing disaster relief in the developing world.

In the education field, most of John Deere's grants are small, domestic, and directed at American universities. But the foundation does have limited international educational programming as well. The foundation's world hunger grants support organizations combatting global hunger and improve the accessibility and sustainability of the food supply around the world. Finally, Deere's awards disaster relief grants to larger organizations such as the Red Cross. While much of John Deere's disaster relief work is domestic, its generosity toward international disaster relief is similar in scope. 

Although the John Deere Foundation awards international grants through its Education and Disaster Relief programs, the programs do not reflect a heavy global focus. As a result, global development grantseekers are advised to focus on the foundation's world hunger strategy.

In this regard, the foundation has awarded grants in its stated areas of interest including farmer training, improving value chains, and water access and usage, especially in smallholder farming communities. John Deere has also supported efforts toward increased access to financial services for smallholder farmers and small business owners. It has also supported research programs address world hunger and the advancement of human development.

The John Deere Foundation's grant application process is not straightforward, but grantseekers can fill out a quick questionnaire to determine grant eligibility. However, this is of little use for those who have not been invited to apply for a grant. The best bet for potential grantseekers here is to reach out to the foundation to cultivate a relationship in the hopes of being invited to apply for a grant. Please note that the foundation imposes geographic restrictions on its grantmaking.


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