- Assets: $292,440,610 (2013)
- Grants Received: $877,000 (2013)
- Grants Awarded: $11,127,277 (2013)
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation (GRDF) was established in memory of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge (1882-1973), the youngest child of William Avery Rockefeller Jr., who in 1870 helped create Standard Oil with his brother, John D. Rockefeller Sr., and four other partners. Geraldine was also the wife of Marcellus Hartley Dodge (1881-1963), heir to the Remington Arms Company fortune.
Over the course of her life, Mrs. Dodge personally made numerous donations to hospitals, churches, and individuals—particularly in her adopted hometown of Madison, Wisconsin; her gifts to Madison ranged from a new fire engine in 1920, to one of the nation’s most beautiful municipal buildings in 1935. Also an avid breeder of dogs, Mrs. Dodge founded the New Jersey-based Morris and Essex Kennel Club, which for three decades sponsored an annual exhibition that became internationally known as the world’s most prestigious. When Mrs. Dodge died in 1973, she left a will containing instructions for the establishment of a charitable foundation bearing her name. That Foundation began operations in 1974.
The Dodge Foundation's grant-making was originally directed toward three primary areas: (a) the arts; (b) animal welfare; and (c) local projects in Morris County, New Jersey, where Mrs. Dodge resided for many years.
Then, over time, GRDF's trustees expanded the scope of their philanthropy. Today the Dodge Foundation's mission is to “promote a sustainable future” in New Jersey by focusing on issues “critical” to the state, and by supporting organizations “that have a direct and meaningful impact” there. Its four main grant-making programs are as follows:
1. The Arts program “focuses on New Jersey’s cultural institutions and those national organizations that ... advance the arts” in the state. Beneficiaries include groups that specialize in such varied endeavors as contemporary music, opera, theater, dance, and visual arts. Special emphasis is given to organizations that place a priority on arts education programming in schools throughout New Jersey.
2. The Media program “supports traditional and innovative uses of media to educate and engage the public around issues of importance to New Jersey and its citizens.” High priority is given to “investigative reporting” designed to “actively engage traditionally underserved audiences” with stories that “uncover abuses of power” by institutions in which the citizenry has “placed [its] trust.”
3. The Education program—emphasizing “the transformative power of arts education to substantially improve children’s lives and academic outcomes”—aims to promote “systemic change” in the pre-K-to-12 education of students “in high poverty communities.”
4. The Environment program seeks to “protec[t] the health of our ecosystems”; “safeguard our water”; “reinforce our natural systems in order to promote more sustainable communities”; and “protec[t] limited resources.” Toward these ends, the Foundation supports numerous organizations that oppose the use of land for such purposes as logging, mining, and oil exploration; some of these groups are hostile to a capitalist economic model as well.
From 1974 through 2013, the Dodge Foundation donated almost $400 million to a host of nonprofit activist groups. Among the more significant recipients of these funds were: the Council on Foundations, Defenders of Wildlife, the Earth Action Network, the Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Media Services, the Environmental Working Group, the Humane Society, Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet, National Public Radio, the Natural Resources Defense Council, PBS, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth), the Rainforest Alliance, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center, the Trust for Public Land, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Wilderness Society, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Worldwatch Institute.
To view a list of additional noteworthy GRDF grantees, click here.
The Dodge Foundation also funds the Pro Bono Partnership, a legal-assistance organization that recruits attorneys from major corporations and law firms to give volunteer help to qualifying nonprofit groups located in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York.
Moreover, GRDF supports New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, a nonprofit that provides referrals for Jersey-based artists and art/cultural organizations to a large network of volunteer attorneys who can assist them with legal issues involving copyrights, trademarks, contracts, landlord/tenant relations, real estate, employment, taxes, and more.
The Dodge Foundation's current board chairman is Christopher Elliman, who has served on the governing council of the Wilderness Society since 1989.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)