Doris Duke Charitable Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: Colleges and universities consistently receive a share of grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF), but they must compete with non-profit organizations and research institutes. The foundation broadly funds research and projects in performing arts, medicine, environmentalism, childhood development, Islamic studies, and African health.

IP TAKE: The Duke Foundation's support for colleges and universities is somewhat limited, but this small number of grants represents big money for the select awardees. Even though unsolicited proposals are not accepted, the foundation does sometimes have open competitive grants, and invites LOI's.

PROFILE: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, established in 1996, seeks “to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties.” In addition to its four main program areas below, the foundation also supports the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges program, as well as the African Health Initiative.

Higher education institutions may seek funding in any of Doris Duke’s four program areas:

The Performing Arts program follows Duke’s will by assisting “actors, dancers, singers, musicians and other artists of the entertainment world in fulfilling their ambitions and providing opportunities for the public presentation of their arts and talents.” This may take the form of Support for Artists, or Support for Organizations. Note that these grants are awarded through intermediary grantmakers, so applicants must apply directly through the intermediaries.

Medical Research grants support research to “advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease by strengthening and supporting clinical research.” One of the foundation’s strategies is to Encourage and Develop Research Careers by supporting scientists through various stages of their training and careers. The other is to Advance Biomedical Research and Innovation by supporting “innovative approaches to clinical research in targeted disease areas.” This program only accepts grants when there are open competitions available.

The Environment Program has four goals: Land Conservation in an Era of Climate Change, Wildlife and Energy Development, Strengthening the Conservation Field, and Environmental Stewardship in the Tri-State Area. This program only accepts grants when there are open competitions available.

The Child Well-Being Program has three goals: A More Robust Repertoire of Prevention Strategies, Strengthen and Expand the Capacity of Existing Systems, and Develop and Disseminate Knowledge. This program only accepts proposals from organizations that have been invited to submit.

Grants range from $10,000 to $750,000, with grant periods varying. Visit the foundation’s grants database for more information on recent awardees.

The foundation generally does not accept unsolicited proposals unless it has announced an open competition. The foundation does welcome letters of inquiry, however, grantseekers should make sure to review the grant guidelines of the relevant program to make sure their project will be eligible.


Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder  (paid subscribers only).