Frequently Asked Questions
What is the history of the Dyson Foundation?
Charles H. (1909-1997) and Margaret M. Dyson (1914 -1990) started the Dyson Foundation to serve as a vehicle for family giving. In its earliest years, the Foundation gave modestly to a wide variety of organizations and causes, with an emphasis on college scholarships to young people. In the late 1960s the Foundation's focus changed to more general purpose funding. From the 1950s through the 1970s, the Foundation's total grants ranged from $50,000 to $200,000 per year. Charlie Dyson was succeeded by his daughter as the Foundation's president in 1979. Dr. Anne E. Dyson, a pediatrician, increased levels of funding in the areas of medicine and child health. The Foundation's annual giving exceeded $1 million per year in the 1980s, increasing again to over $10 million by the late 1990s. Anne E. Dyson died in 2000 and was succeeded by her brother Robert R. Dyson, who continues to serve as Chairman of the Board to this day. The Foundation's current annual giving now averages between $14 and $16 million annually.
How long has the Foundation been in operation?
The Dyson Foundation was formed in 1956 and incorporated in 1957.
How is the Foundation managed?
The Dyson Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors and managed by a professional staff from an office in Millbrook, New York.
Who sits on the board of the Foundation?
In addition to Robert R. Dyson, the Board of Directors includes associates of the Dyson family, community leaders, and others knowledgeable in the fields funded by the Foundation. Board Directors serve on a voluntary basis and are paid no fees for their service.
Does the Foundation have a code of ethics or standards to which it adheres?
Yes. Since 1997, the board-adopted Standards of the Dyson Foundation have guided all of the Foundation's activities according to the highest ethical principles because we believe that it is important for foundations to be responsible and accountable stewards of the public trust.
How often does the Board of Directors meet?
The Board of Directors meets four times a year, generally in March, June, September, and December. Proposals are accepted year-round on a rolling basis and proposal reviews are not tied to board meeting dates.
How much does the Foundation give in grants each year?
Annually the Foundation awards approximately $14,000,000-$16,000,000. Since its founding in 1957, the Dyson Foundation has made grants of over $349,000,000.
What are the major funding priorities of the Foundation?
The Dyson Foundation has a major funding program in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State that aims to improve and enhance the quality of life in the region for all of its residents, especially those most vulnerable or economically disadvantaged. We define the Mid-Hudson region as including Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster counties. We have a particular emphasis on Dutchess County, our home community. Learn more about the Mid-Hudson Valley Funding Program.
The Foundation also awards grants to organizations or towards issues which are of particular interest to members of the family of Robert R. Dyson through Legacy & Family Interest Grants, and the Board of Directors can direct a limited amount of discretionary grant funding to other organizations through the Directors' Discretionary program. These grants are by invitation only.
Does the Foundation ever change its funding priorities, and if so, who decides on these changes?
The Board of Directors periodically reviews funding priorities and funding areas but does not change them frequently. If there is a new special issue or problem that the Foundation seeks to address through its funding, it will likely be developed as a Special Initiative. In December of 2008, in response to the recession that began earlier that year, the Board of Directors decided to concentrate its grantmaking on organizations that provide safety net and basic needs services. We have increased funding for our Mini-Grant Program and continue to offer funding through our Strategic Restructuring Initiative. Unfortunately, we will not be considering grants in certain fields including the environment, historic preservation, and for capital projects. Funding for the arts will be limited to organizations that provide support or training to other arts organizations, or that have demonstrated and significant positive impacts on job opportunities and the local economy.
What are some of the current grants or projects funded by the Foundation?
Search a list of Recent Grants. Please note that recent grants may not always reflect our current funding interests. Our grantmaking priorities sometimes change in response to emerging needs and economic conditions.
How do I get a copy of the Foundation's Annual Report?
In 2010, the Dyson Foundation made the decision to move away from a stand-alone Annual Report and in its place created an Annual Summary page, a convenient directory with links to annual financial and grantmaking data that was traditionally contained in our annual report. From this page you may also link to Past Annual Reports, which houses an archive of stand-alone annual reports through 2009, along with links to Annual Summary data from 2010 forward.
How can I get a copy of the Foundation's 990-PF (private foundation income tax filing)?
The easiest way to obtain a copy of our income tax return is to download it from Guidestar or the Foundation Center. We can send you a paper copy but a photocopying fee will be charged (the document is several hundred pages). If you would like to receive a paper copy, please send an email or call our office at 845.677.0644. It is also available for inspection at our office during regular business hours.