Student Learning and Success

The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation has a longstanding commitment to youth education. We focus this grantmaking on two areas: K-12 education 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.

Observing a hive, photo courtesy of Bee Downtown

K-12 Education

MDBF advocates for a high quality, forward-looking educational experience for all children. In our challenging, changing, and increasingly interconnected world, it is essential for youth to be inspired and prepared to become productive and fulfilled lifelong learners and contributors.

MDBF’s education grantmaking funds programs for underserved K-12 students that provide innovative, creative, and effective approaches to teaching and learning, particularly those that address the opportunity gap these students can experience. 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, disability, abuse, or neglect.

MDBF funds in-school and out-of-school programs that strengthen and support academic achievement. The foundation has a strong interest in projects that provide students with opportunities to think critically, problem solve and problem find, work collaboratively, and/or communicate effectively. The maximum grant is $10,000.

Single-year grants for projects with innovative and creative approaches in one or more of the following areas:
  • Academic proficiency in English/language arts, STEM/STEAM subjects, history, government, and civics
  • Grade-level reading proficiency
  • Digital literacy
  • Project-based learning, experiential learning, and other hands-on learning opportunities
  • Comprehensive student success to help students prepare for college or career
  • Professional development opportunities to educators in the above areas

Criteria

Characteristics of competitive applications include:
  • Projects clearly identify connections with critical thinking and problem solving, communication, digital literacy, collaboration, and/or creativity skills.
  • Projects provide a sustained learning experience for the same group of students.
  • Projects have clearly identified goals, action plan, and evaluation measures.
  • Partner organizations, if involved, have agreed to participate at the time of application.
Institutional and project eligibility:
  • Applicant must have a current 501c3 status; fiscal sponsorships are allowable.
  • The applying organization must be located in and the project must take place in Chatham, Durham, Orange, or Wake Counties, North Carolina.
  • Organizations must have annual operating expenses under $5 million (fiscal sponsors are exempt from this stipulation).
  • Project budgets should not exceed $100,000.
  • Projects should be new or have been operating for fewer than 5 years.
  • Organizations may have only active grant at a time. A final narrative and financial report on the organization’s previous grant must be received by the foundation before a new LOI is submitted. If you have questions about your organization’s eligibility, please call the foundation before submitting an LOI.
  • Public schools and charter schools are not eligible to apply.

Arts Education

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 can also provide the means for sharing ideas and images, cultural and political knowledge, and insights about humanity across generations. By nurturing creative thinking, collaborative, and other competencies, arts education can play a vital role in preparing students for successful lives and careers.

MDBF funds arts education projects that provide opportunities for underserved K-12 students to participate directly and meaningfully in the arts. 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, disability, abuse, or neglect.

All arts disciplines—music, dance, theater, visual, and digital/photography/filmmaking—are eligible. Projects may take place within a school setting or outside of school. Projects that provide professional development opportunities to educators may be considered. The maximum grant is $10,000.

Single-year grants for innovative and creative projects that:
  • Provide experiential, hands-on art instruction
  • Bolster critical cognitive and non-cognitive skills
  • Develop technical, conceptual, and creative skills

Criteria

Characteristics of competitive applications include:
  • Projects provide a sustained learning experience for the same group of students.
  • Programs are delivered by qualified arts educators.
  • Projects have clearly identified goals, action plan, and evaluation measures.
  • Partner organizations, if involved, have agreed to participate at the time of application.
Institutional and project eligibility
  • Applicant must have a current 501c3 status; fiscal sponsorships are allowable.
  • The applying organization must be located in and project must take place in Chatham, Durham, Orange, or Wake Counties, North Carolina.
  • Organizations must have annual operating expenses under $5 million (fiscal sponsors are exempt from this stipulation).
  • Project budgets should not exceed $100,000.
  • Projects should be new or have been operating for fewer than 5 years.
  • Organizations may have only active grant at a time. A final narrative and financial report on the organization’s previous grant must be received by the foundation before a new LOI is submitted. If you have questions about your organization’s eligibility, please call the foundation before submitting an LOI.
  • Public schools and charter schools are not eligible to apply.