Thinking About the New Guidelines

Posted on by Dodge

David Grant, President and CEO

Every morning, on my way to my e-mails or the news, I pause over the Dodge homepage. This Sunday, November 8th, I did more than pause, for there, finally, were the revised guidelines and all the accompanying materials people need to apply to Dodge for grants in 2010. We’ve been working on them for months.

It doesn’t take four or five months to write seven or eight pages and redesign some forms. But it could take forever to decide what’s in them, such is the freedom foundations have to choose among worthy ideas and efforts to support.

At this point in time, I hope we have found that sweet spot where change is so based on current practices and opportunities that it feels logical and right. These guidelines reflect what we have learned from our grantees, and I believe almost all of those organizations will find themselves in this new presentation of what Dodge supports.

At the same time, the new guidelines encourage big-picture thinking, which is different from our supporting discrete programs in different disciplines. They reflect a long-term vision of New Jersey as a creative place and, as a result, a more sustainable place. And they are built around the importance of having well-run and well-governed nonprofit organizations serving that vision both alone and, increasingly, with others.

Thus you will notice some new language about “high-potential, innovative, collaborative programs and models.” What do we mean by this? We think of the Sustainable Jersey coalition of local governments, universities, state government, businesses and nonprofits now working so effectively to give people on the local level the tools they need to make their places more sustainable. We think of the work Young Audiences of New Jersey and the Foundation for Educational Administration is doing to launch a state-wide creativity initiative. We think of the work The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education is doing to involve schools, school-systems and their communities in understanding the mind-sets necessary to create a sustainable future together.

And we believe there will be other important ideas and effective approaches that will come our way because of the new guideline language about creativity and sustainability. As we say elsewhere on this site, quoting playwright David Mamet, “We steer where we are looking.”

I hope somewhere out there my successor is looking — and liking what he or she sees.

2 Responses to Thinking About the New Guidelines

  1. I love these guidelines. Not only do they encourage imaginative thinking, they are so congruent with directions that our school has been taking of late. I say this not to engage in “apple-polishing,” but because the Dodge Foundation’s guidelines are logical and manageable. The new flexibility is also so useful to organizations. Although the past deadline came at a logical time for us, the “rolling admissions” policy will give us time to explore further collaborations with our partner and with possible additional partners. Thank you for continuing to serve the best interests of your grantees.

  2. Ruth Fost says:

    When something good — something special — happens at Pushcart, we like to say: “It is a thing of beauty!” The New Guidelines are “a thing of beauty!” A precious legacy of David Grant and all who helped look and steer. Many thanks!

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