K-12 Education

The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation has a longstanding commitment to youth education. We focus this grantmaking on two areas: Student Success and Learning  and Arts education. In both areas, the foundation makes grants to help children, especially those in underserved communities, acquire the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they need to succeed in school, career pathways, and life.

We make grants to organizations located in and serving students in Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties in North Carolina.

North Carolina Arts in Action, photo by MaryBeth Carpenter

K-12 Education Program

The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation has a longstanding commitment to youth education. We focus grantmaking in two areas: Student Success and Learning and Arts Education.

MDBF advocates for a high quality, forward-looking educational experience for all children, with a particular interest in organizations working with underserved K-12 students to provide innovative, creative, and effective approaches to teaching and learning.

Participating in the arts confers numerous benefits, from providing captivation and pleasure, to providing a vehicle for self-expression, to promoting cognitive growth and the capacity for empathy. Arts education nurtures creative thinking, collaboration, and other competencies.

We support organizations that help children in underserved communities acquire the knowledge, skills, and support they need to succeed in school, careers, and life. For the purpose of our grants, underserved students are those who lack access to programs, opportunities, or support because of economic conditions, race or ethnic background, geography, or differing abilities. We make grants to organizations located in and serving students in Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake Counties in North Carolina.

 

Funding Goals

Student Success and Learning: Provide and promote learning environments that equip underserved students to succeed in college or career. Support for organizations that strengthen and support academic achievement, work to close the academic opportunity gap, prepare students for careers and college, and/or build a foundation of confidence and creativity to foster growth and success. Organizations that provide professional development for teachers are eligible.

 

Arts Education: Provide opportunities for underserved students to engage directly in high-quality arts programs. Support for organizations that seek to strengthen in-school and out-of-school arts instruction, particularly that in which students actively participate in making art. We encourage opportunities that include culturally-affirming arts. Organizations that provide professional development for teachers and teaching artists are eligible.

 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We view our education grantmaking through an equity lens. We are particularly interested in supporting organizations led by people of color and whose boards and staff reflect the population(s) served by the organization.

 

Grant Opportunities

MDBF offers two grant types, awarded through an open and competitive grant process.

 

Operating Support Grants: Beginning in 2021, MDBF is shifting most of its grantmaking from project-based support to operating support for organizations that align with our K-12 Education funding goals, below.  We offer a two-year grant totaling $20,000.

Opportunity Grant: We offer a one-year $5,000 Opportunity Grant. For smaller organizations (annual operating expenses less than $300,000), grants are unrestricted to help organizations grow and develop. For larger organizations (annual operating expenses more than $300,000), grants will support the launch of new initiatives and innovation in their programming.

The application process is the same for both opportunities, although there are specific eligibility criteria for each.

We anticipate making 10 two-year grants and 5 one-year grants.

 

Institutional Eligibility

 

Eligibility for 2-year Operating Support grants:
  • Applicant must have a current 501c3 status or have a fiscal sponsor.
  • The applying organization must be located in and primary programming must take place in Chatham, Durham, Orange, or Wake Counties, North Carolina.
  • Organization’s mission, goals, and programming are directly related to the MDBF’s funding goals.
  • Organizations must have annual operating expenses under $5 million (fiscal sponsors are exempt from this stipulation). Schools, units, and departments within larger organizations, such as universities, are not eligible even if their budget is under $5 million.
  • Have evidence of efficacy of primary programming/mission
  • Demonstrated success and measurable patterns of student achievement or success in the programs operating by the organization. Organizations unable to show proven past results are less likely to receive a grant.
  • Organizations may have only one active MDBF grant at a time.
  • Public schools and charter schools are not eligible to apply.
  • Public school foundations are eligible to apply.

 

Eligibility for 1-year Opportunity Grants:
  • Applicant must have a current 501c3 status or have a fiscal sponsor.
  • The applying organization must be located in and primary programming must take place in Chatham, Durham, Orange, or Wake Counties, North Carolina.
  • Organization’s mission, goals, and programming are directly related to the MDBF’s funding goals.
  • Preference given to smaller organizations with annual operating expenses less than $300,000. Larger organizations with operating expenses greater than $300,000 may apply to launch a new initiative.
  • Preference given to organizations that have never received a grant from MDBF or have not received a grant in the previous 5 years. However, organizations that have received an MDBF grant more recently are eligible to apply.
  • Smaller organizations can apply for subsequent Opportunity Grants, but support is not guaranteed.
  • Larger organizations may not use the Opportunity Grant for operating support.
  • Larger organizations that receive an Opportunity Grant for an initiative may apply for the Operating Support Grant after one year, but cannot apply for an additional Opportunity Grant for the same initiative.

 

Evaluation Criteria

In reviewing grant proposals, MDBF will use the following evaluation criteria:

  • Alignment of the organization’s education programming with MDBF’s funding program goals
  • Efficacy and impact of the organization’s programming
  • For Operating Support Grants, the organization’s track record of delivering effective programming that aligns with the MDBF funding program’s goals
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in its governance, staffing, and work, reflecting the population(s) served by the organization
  • Organization’s financial stability, including support from other areas of the community.
  • Organization has the capacity to achieve their goals: staffing (including volunteers), board governance, and financial resources