Year in Review


The Dyson Foundation remained committed to providing project and general operating support to many primary, service-oriented nonprofits throughout 2012. The Foundation’s total grantmaking in 2012 was slightly lower than the previous year, but nonetheless stood as the third largest in terms of total outlay in its 50 year history.

The Foundation made $18,667,714 in payments on grants in 2012, representing about 6% less than the 2011 outlay of $19,785,117. In 2012, the Foundation approved 209 new grants totaling $14,044,535 to be paid in that year or in future years. The 2012 new grants figure marks a decrease of 14% compared to the prior year’s new grant commitment.

The Foundation paid on 272 grants to 220 different nonprofit organizations in 2012. Individual grant payments made in 2012 ranged from $500 to $1,000,000 with a mean payment of $63,700 and a median grant payment of $25,000. The mean and median figures rose to $68,000 and $30,000, respectively, when Management Assistance Program (MAP) mini-grants were deducted from the totals. Of the 272 grants paid out during the year, 28 grants (or 13% of the total) were awarded to new grantee organizations and 101 grants represented multi-year pledges. Overall, the Dyson Foundation received 240 unsolicited requests for funding in 2012, representing an 18% decline from the 293 unsolicited requests received the previous year.

The Mid-Hudson Valley giving program represented the largest area of giving in 2012, receiving $11,717,929 or 63% of the Foundation’s overall funding in 2012. The Mid-Hudson Valley program (which provides funding for nonprofit organizations located in Dutchess County and the surrounding counties of Ulster, Orange, Columbia, Greene and Putnam) increased by more than $1,077,812 over 2011 funding levels in this category. The Legacy & Family Interest program represented the next largest area of giving in 2012, receiving $6,618,950 or 35% of the Foundation’s total grantmaking for the year. This was a decline of $2,188,250 from 2011 in this category, representing a return to 2008 levels in the Legacy & Family Interest giving program. The Foundation continued its Directors’ Discretionary and Support of Philanthropy funding programs at levels consistent with previous years’ allocations, each representing about 1% of total giving for the year.

In 2012, the Foundation concentrated most of its giving in three main areas: project or program funding, general operating support, and building/renovation grants. Project support accounted for $7,236,879 in funding for 107 grants and 39% of the grants total. The Foundation made 99 grants totaling $5,040,335 in the general operating support category, reflecting continued commitment to provide core support for established nonprofits operating in the Mid-Hudson region. General operating support accounted for 27% of overall funding. Another $2,385,000 was allocated for 8 grants to support building and renovations projects, a significant decline from the $4,943,100 allocated to this category in 2011.

The Mid-Hudson Valley Program accounted for 147 of the 272 grants the Foundation made in 2012 with program support, general operating support and Management Assistance Program grants the most frequently awarded type of funding. Program support grants totaling $6,215,479 comprised 53% of the Mid-Hudson Valley grant dollars allocated. General operating support grants totaled $2,462,500 and remained at the previous year’s giving levels, representing 21% of the program’s total grant dollars. The third largest category was building / renovation grants, which remained steady at 7% of 2012 grantmaking in the category.

Geographically, the largest portion of grant dollars paid under the Mid-Hudson Valley Program, 41%, was allocated to programs with “region-wide” impact, reflecting for the second consecutive year the large amount of funding received by the Walkway Over the Hudson organization in 2012. Region-wide projects include grants made to nonprofits whose work impacts more than one of the six counties covered under the Mid-Hudson Valley giving program, including Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster. Programs targeting Dutchess County residents made up the second largest category, accounting for 37% of Mid-Hudson Valley grantmaking. Programs targeting Orange County residents accounted for 9% of Mid-Hudson Valley grantmaking. Columbia, Greene, Putnam and Ulster counties together accounted for the final 13% of the Dyson Foundation’s Mid-Hudson Valley grantmaking in 2012.

In 2012, the Foundation’s Management Assistance Program (MAP) made payments on 23 grants totaling $468,750 in its three sub-categories, which include the Mini-Grant Program, the Strategic Restructuring Initiative (SRI), and the Cash Flow Loan Program. Of the 23 grants, 20 were mini-grants ($10,000 or less), totaling $118,950. Grants for organizational assessment and planning accounted for 52% of funding in this category, which was a decrease from the 71% of the program’s total allocation in 2011. This year, board development projects accounted for 20% of mini-grant dollars – a more significant percentage than ever before, up from 7% in both 2010 and 2011. There were just 4 grants totaling $108,000 made through the Foundation’s Strategic Restructuring Initiative (SRI). Of the SRI grants awarded in 2012, 65% of the funds awarded went directly to implementation, representing a growing trend toward implementation in this category over the last five years and reflecting the fact that restructuring projects can take several years to fully develop. The Cash Flow Loan program saw activity involving three nonprofits, including PEOPLe, Inc. Northeast Community Council, and Walkway Over the Hudson.

Notable Grants and other Program Activities

The Foundation made several grants in 2012 that were notable for their regional significance and their potential to impact many Hudson Valley residents over time. Among these were:

  • A $120,000 grant to Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic to implement the Building Bridges Outreach Program, a two year program designed to improve the sexual health of economically disadvantaged women living in Putnam County. The Building Bridges program will close the gap between the need for reproductive health services and their availability, while eliminating barriers to access.
  • A $500,000 grant to Ulster County to implement the Strategic Taxpayer Relief Through Innovative Visions in Education (STRIVE) project—a potentially transformative plan to place a satellite branch of Ulster Community College (UCC) in the recently-closed Sophie Finn Elementary School, located in the heart of inner city Kingston. Slated for implementation in 2013, STRIVE will achieve many beneficial results, including boosting UCC’s enrollment, allowing county government to centralize services, the selling of two county-owned properties (and returning those properties to the tax rolls), and the reduction of unnecessary overhead costs. Closing the elementary school, consolidating county offices, and putting some county properties back on the tax rolls would save taxpayers roughly $2.4 million annually.
  • A $500,000 grant to the YMCA of the Capital District to help finance the construction of a new YMCA in Greene County. With $2.3 million already raised for the project, the grant will provide the final funds needed to build a facility in West Coxsackie that will include a multi-purpose gymnasium, wellness center, spinning room, child watch babysitting area, welcome center, and locker rooms. The new Greene County YMCA will offer the same Capital District YMCA programs and services that are offered throughout the capital region. Membership fees, program participation fees, and annual fundraising efforts will provide the revenue needed to sustain the Greene County operation costs, in addition to the support that will come from being part of the Capital District YMCA.

In addition to these grants, the Dyson Foundation funded and actively participated in the following projects, also notably for their importance to the community:

In October, 2012, the Foundation purchased the historic Upper Landing property from the City of Poughkeepsie. The purchase of the 2.7 acre waterfront parcel followed several months of public review, during which the Foundation presented plans to transform the unused and overgrown property into an attractive and pleasant river side park. Upper Landing Park will also serve as the gateway to a planned waterfront elevator that is being constructed in 2013 to connect the Poughkeepsie shoreline to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. Construction of the new park began in the Spring of 2013 and was expected to conclude later that Fall in time for the expected completion of the waterfront elevator. Meanwhile the Foundation plans to work with the community to determine the best new uses for the Hoffman House and the Reynolds Building, two of Poughkeepsie’s most historically significant buildings that are located on the Upper Landing property.

On October 1, 2012, the Dyson Foundation and the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion (MIPO) released Many Voices One Valley 2012, their third collaborative in depth survey measuring the priorities and perspectives of Mid-Hudson Valley residents. Conducted every five years, the 2012 study surveyed 4,443 residents from seven counties, providing a detailed understanding of residents’ perspectives on a broad range of issues from health care and housing to employment and the arts. MVOV 2012’s data and demographics were presented online via a highly interactive website that compares residents’ responses to many of the same questions over a ten year period.

Also in October, 2012, the Foundation provided $212,000 to fund the hiring of Stantec Planning & Landscape Architecture P.C. to carry out the Poughkeepsie Waterfront Redevelopment Strategy and Zoning study. In collaboration with the Dutchess County Planning Department and the City of Poughkeepsie, Stantec is charged with completing a comprehensive strategy to guide the future development of a large and complex waterfront area that will soon serve as a major regional crossroad. The firm is expected to complete its report by mid-2013 and will create a master plan, new zoning language, and an implementation strategy that takes into account many inter-related elements, including the Hudson River, Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, the Dutchess Rail Trail, Waryas Park, Upper Landing Park, the Fall Kill Creek, Metro North Railroad, Route 9, and the Mid-Hudson Bridge.

Governance Update

The Board of Directors worked throughout the year via committee meetings, occasional conference calls, and four regularly scheduled board meetings.  Several of the board meetings were held off site and included presentations from grantees, including New Horizons Resources, Inc,, Vassar College, Dutchess County Community College, and the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.


At the end of 2012, the total market value of the Foundation’s investment portfolio was $234.9 million, which represented an increase of $1.4 million over its market value at the end of 2011. The Dyson Foundation’s investment portfolio had a return of approximately 10.2% in FY2012.