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Year in Review 2014

The Dyson Foundation funded a diverse array of nonprofits in 2014, maintaining grant levels consistent with recent years. Through its grantmaking the Foundation again demonstrated its commitment to supporting established human service organizations providing core needs and services in the Mid-Hudson Valley and elsewhere. Several major grants of $500,000 or more were made in support of Dyson family priorities to nonprofits, medical institutions and colleges. And, the Foundation hosted a well-attended community celebration at Upper Landing Park in Poughkeepsie. 

The Foundation’s grants for 2014 totaled $17,889,192.  A significant majority was awarded for general operating and program support grants, accounting for 215 of the 279 grants made.

The Foundation gave $10.9 million, or 61% of its overall grantmaking in 2014, through its Mid-Hudson Valley Program, while the Legacy & Family Interest category accounted for $6.6 million (37%).  The Foundation made payments on 149 grants under the Mid-Hudson Valley Program, supporting a broad spectrum of giving categories, from education and recreation to human services and health care. Payments on human services grants represented 27% of the Foundation’s Mid-Hudson Valley giving portfolio, followed closely by Recreation at 25%, due in large part to payments on several grants totaling $2.52 million to the Walkway Over the Hudson. 

While Dutchess County nonprofits received the most funding (32%) of the six individual counties included in the Mid-Hudson Valley program, the largest share of grant dollars (39%) went to charities that operated regionally by serving residents in two or more of the six counties. Dutchess County nonprofits received $3.99 million while the next highest recipient, Ulster County-based nonprofits, received $1.47 million. They were followed by Orange County, $1.05 million; Columbia and Greene counties, $774,000; and Putnam County, $245,000.

The Foundation maintained its ongoing commitment to strengthening Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofits through its Management Assistance Program (MAP) and its Strategic Restructuring Initiative. The number of MAP grants (29) increased by 20% in 2014 to a total funding commitment of $286,200. Of them, there were 20 mini-grants paid to cover a range of supportive activities, including strategic planning, board development, feasibility studies, governance and legal issues. 

Payments totaling $500,000 or more were made to several charities in the Mid-Hudson Valley and elsewhere.  These included: $1 million to Cornell University; $750,000 to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; $591,500 to Family Services; $550,000 to Washington and Lee University; $500,000 to the Vassar Brothers Medical Center Foundation; and $500,000 to Weill Cornell Medical College.

Foundation grantmaking in 2014 was highlighted by several grants of significance, each representing giving priorities in the Mid-Hudson Valley program. In one, the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley received $100,000—the first of a two-year funding commitment—to cover general operating costs associated with the organization’s ongoing work to feed the hungry throughout the region. In another, Safe Homes of Orange County received $40,000 of a two-year commitment to support its court advocacy services for victims of domestic violence. 

The Foundation also paid $50,000 to the Mid-Hudson Addiction Recovery Centers to support its Chemical Dependency Crisis Center, which provides residential drug and alcohol detoxification services. And, the Foundation paid $55,000 of a three-year funding commitment to the Council on Addiction Prevention & Education’s Marathon Project, which operates in several Dutchess County school districts and promotes positive behaviors for youth through distance running training and mentoring in order to reduce risk factors such as childhood obesity, school dropout, bullying and substance abuse.

In August, 2014, the Foundation hosted Upper Landing Community Day along the waterfront in Poughkeepsie. The free, day-long event featured bands, entertainers, dancing and food vendors and was offered as a way of thanking the community for its overwhelming support for the Foundation’s efforts to develop Upper Landing Park over the previous two years. Several hundred people attended the old-fashioned family friendly event, leading to plans to hold a second Upper Landing Community Day in 2015. 

STAFF CHANGES

There were two internal staffing promotions during the course of this year. Jennifer Drake was promoted to the position of Program Officer, and Melissa Utsett was promoted to the newly developed role of Program and Information Coordinator. Jennifer Torres was hired as administrative assistant to replace the position vacated by Melissa Utsett. 

INVESTMENTS

At the end of 2014, the market value of the Foundation’s investment portfolio was $235.2 million, which represented a decrease of $11.9 million from the previous year. The Dyson Foundation’s investment portfolio had a return of approximately 3.5% in FY 2014. 

GOVERNANCE

The Board of Directors worked throughout the year via committee meetings, occasional conference calls, and four regularly scheduled board meetings. Two of the meetings were held off-site and included presentations from grantees, including Green Chimney’s; Putnam Family and Community Services; Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic; and the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley.