Year in Review 2007

In 2007, the Dyson Foundation paid out $27,326,126 in grants to 245 different nonprofit organizations. This was 48% more than the previous year’s payout total of $18,462,531 and by far the largest grantmaking year in the Foundation’s 50-year history.

Grantmaking

Of the 324 different grants made in 2007, individual grant payments ranged from $200 to $3,500,000. The mean grant payment was $78,638 while the median payment was $20,000. When Management Assistance Program mini-grants are removed from the calculations both the mean and the median grant figures rise to $89,178 and $25,000 respectively. Of the 324 separate grants paid out in 2007, 56 grants, or 17% percent of the total, were awarded to new grantee organizations.  The Dyson Foundation’s 2007 payout rate was 8.2% (foundations are required to pay out at least 5% of their assets annually in both grants and administrative expenses for charitable purposes).  

Grants celebrating the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary in 2007 accounted for $5,100,000 of total grant outlays with $4,100,000 paid out through the Legacy & Family Interest program and $1,000,000 through the Mid-Hudson Valley program. This was part of a $28 million multi-year grant commitment announced in January, 2007 to commemorate the Foundation’s anniversary in which grants were awarded to the following institutions: Pace University ($7,500,000), Cornell University ($5,000,000), Marietta College ($5,000,000), Weill Medical College of Cornell University ($5,000,000), Health Quest ($5,000,000) and the Pierpont Morgan Library ($500,000).  

The Legacy & Family Interest program area represented the largest category of Foundation giving at 48% of all grant dollars, up from 37% in 2006. Mid-Hudson Valley program area grants increased to $12,069,619 in 2007, an increase of 33% over the amount allocated to this program area in the previous year. The Anne E. Dyson Community Pediatrics Training Initiative accounted for 6% of grant dollars for 2007, as compared to 12% in 2006.  

Of the 324 grants made in 2007, 177 of them were Mid-Hudson Valley grants. Although the number of Mid-Hudson Valley grants remained the same (177) as in 2006, the total grant outlay was $3 million more than during the previous year, an all time record for the Mid-Hudson Valley program area. Under this category, Dutchess County grantees received 65% of the grant dollars paid out in 2007 while 22% of the grants paid were to “region-wide” grantees, or nonprofits that serve two or more of the counties located within the Foundation’s Mid-Hudson Region (comprised of Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster counties). Of the remainder, 6% of Mid-Hudson Valley program funding went to Ulster County nonprofits, 4% went to Columbia County and 3% was shared between Greene, Orange and Putnam county grantees.  

Through the Mid-Hudson Valley category, the Foundation awarded $735,000 to five English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in an initiative designed to address the need for adult and family-oriented English language classes among the region’s growing immigrant populations. Through a request for proposals, grants were awarded to new and established programs that addressed some of the special challenges immigrant families face in accessing education, such as scheduling, child care, and transportation. Grants were awarded to the Beacon Community Center ($195,000), Poughkeepsie’s Center of the Square ($105,000), the Hudson Area Association Library ($180,000), the First Presbyterian Church of Millerton ($30,000) and the State University of New York at New Paltz ($225,000).  

Also through a request for proposals, the Foundation awarded grants to support the development of new after-school programs in the region’s more rural school districts, places where these supportive programs have been found lacking. Planning grants were awarded to the Catskill Central School District ($45,000) in Greene County and the Germantown Central School District ($28,000) in Columbia County. The initiative also awarded a grant to the After-School Corporation ($6,000), representing several Dyson Foundation grantees interested in exploring the development of new programs.  

In August, 2007, the Dyson Foundation awarded $1.5 million to fund engineering and design studies to determine the feasibility of Walkway Over the Hudson’s plan to transform the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge into an elevated pedestrian and cycling park. This study, along with an economic impact study completed by Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs, helped make the case to New York State and other public and private partners for moving ahead with the project. By year’s end, New York State had announced its commitment to fund at least $8 million of the project in the state’s 2008-09 budget, setting the stage for construction to begin in the spring of 2008.  

The Foundation’s Management Assistance Program awarded 51 grants totaling $446,200 in 2007. Of these, 43 were mini-grants ($10,000 or less) comprising $166,700.  The remainder supported management assistance projects designed to build capacity and increase operating efficiency in Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofit organizations. Other management assistance projects included payments of $100,000 each to the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Valkill for the continuation of a joint marketing and communications planning project.  

Other Program Activities  

In 2007, the Dyson Foundation again commissioned the nationally-renowned Marist College Institute for Public Opinion to conduct a comprehensive regional survey—Many Voices One Valley 2007—that explored Mid-Hudson Valley residents’ perceptions, beliefs and attitudes regarding issues affecting their day-to-day lives. Many Voices One Valley 2007 was a reprise of a similar survey conducted by the Marist College Institute five years earlier and, as such, the study produced valuable comparative information that tracked demographic trends taking shape in our region. The study involved more than 4,320 residents from seven counties (including Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster) and highlighted residents’ concerns with the ever-increasing costs of living, particularly in areas of health care.  

The Dyson Foundation continued its stewardship of the Funders’ Network of the Mid-Hudson Valley in 2007, again providing professional staffing and support for the informal affiliation of regional funders. The Funders’ Network offered several workshops and networking opportunities during the year in various Hudson Valley locations. 

Governance

As is the board’s tradition, four meetings were held, one of which included a visit to the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum on the Poughkeepsie waterfront, and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Another meeting was held in Beacon, NY, and included visits to The Beacon Institute and it’s new site on Dennings Point, and the Scenic Hudson Long Dock Project site.  

Foundation President Robert R. Dyson’s two adult children - Molly Dyson and Chris Dyson - joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors in the Fall of 2007 along with new Trustee Jode Millman. Trustee David Nathan resigned from the Board in June.  

In addition to its regular business, the board adopted new funding guidelines for environmental projects.  

Guest speakers that made presentations to the board, included Dr. Eric P. Winer, Director of Breast Oncology Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; Fran Dunwell, Coordinator for the Hudson River Estuary Program at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; John Cronin, CEO, and Marc Moran, COO of The Beacon Institute; Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson; and Dr. Lee Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute of Public Opinion and Dr. Barbara Carvalho, Director of the Marist Poll.  

On May 18, 2007, the Foundation mourned the passing of Trustee Michael Murphy, who died after a long struggle with cancer. Mike’s many contributions to the Dyson Foundation were deeply appreciated. His wit, wisdom and friendship will be sorely missed. In his memory, the Foundation worked with his family to establish the Michael P. Murphy Public Service Scholarship at the Community Foundation of Dutchess County, which awards an annual scholarship to a graduating senior from Millbrook High School, Our Lady of Lourdes High School or Poughkeepsie High School who is planning to pursue a career in government and will attend an accredited college or university.

Investments

At the end of 2007, the total market value of the Foundation’s investment portfolio was $354 million, which represented an increase of $3 million over its market value at the end of 2006.  

The Dyson Foundation’s approximate return, net of management fees, was 9.6% in 2007 compared to 15.6% on the same basis in 2006. At the end of the year, the Foundation’s asset mix was 61.3% equities, 19.4% fixed income, 10.7% hedge funds, and 8.6% private equities.  

Staffing

In June, 2007, staff assistant Evan Downey left the Foundation to pursue a teaching career. Later that month, Cindy Scott was hired to be the new staff assistant. In May, Steve Densmore was retained as the Foundation’s press liaison and writer.