WASHINGTON, DC – The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution strengthened its 120-year reputation for outstanding service in communities across the country by launching a successful grants program supporting local nonprofit projects related to historic preservation, education and patriotism. The first year of the DAR Special Projects Grants program has proven to be an incredible success. In the program’s inaugural year, 44 grants totaling more than $180,000 were awarded to communities in 26 states. Funding for the grants is provided by the President General’s Project, which is supported by member donations.
“I am so proud of the support of our members to the DAR Special Projects Grants program through their donations to the President General’s Project and sponsorship of grant applications,” said President General Merry Ann T. Wright, who launched the program at the beginning of her administration in July 2010. “It is an honor for the DAR to be able to support so many outstanding local projects helping to preserve the past, enhance the present and invest in the future through historic preservation, education and patriotism.”
The program’s three areas of focus allows for great variety in the types of projects that receive DAR grants. While ten projects were awarded the largest monetary amount available through the DAR grants program ($10,000), the majority of the grants distributed were in the $2,000–$5,000 range. Projects receiving funds in the range of $300–$1,500 included the conservation of documents signed by Abraham Lincoln and the installation of outdoor classroom seating for living history demonstrations.
Click here to view a photo slideshow of special projects around the country funded by DAR grants.
Efforts to preserve local historic sites, properties, documents and artifacts received 22 grants totaling $77,895. The historic Van Schaick Mansion in Cohoes, N.Y., was awarded a $2,000 DAR grant for restoring and replacing the dormer roofs, painting new exterior stairways and insulating the attic. The mansion, used as a military headquarters during the Revolutionary War, hosted American generals as they laid plans for the Battles of Saratoga. The General Peter Gansevoort Chapter, Albany, N.Y. sponsored the grant.
Many grants funded the placement or preservation of markers or signage at historical sites and structures. A DAR grant helped the Historic Port Royal organization in Virginia to create four historical markers recognizing an early American businesswoman, the American Indians who first inhabited the region, a Colonial tavern and the Union Supply Depot. Each marker acknowledges the Washington-Lewis Chapter, Fredericksburg, Va., for its sponsorship of the project.
Local museums also benefited. A $10,000 DAR grant helped the Louis E. May Historical Museum in Fremont, Neb., replace its porch and install a new railing and ramp. The May Museum has had a long relationship with the Lewis-Clark Chapter, Fremont, Neb., which has displayed chapter artifacts and stored chapter archives at the museum over the years, and which sponsored the grant application.
Other grant projects included the documentation and digitization of local archives and records collections, including those of the Huntsville Madison County Public Library in Alabama.
Sixteen grants totaling $85,387 benefited educational programs ranging from exhibitions about topics such as the American Revolution and folk arts to unique scholarship and tutoring programs.
The nonprofit organization Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop, with the support of the Eleanor Wilson Chapter, Washington, D.C., received a $7,250 DAR grant to launch a new initiative. Free Minds uses books and creative writing to empower incarcerated young people and help transform their lives. The DAR grant helped to create a virtual book club for D.C. youth who have been transferred to other federal prison facilities, preventing them from participating in the weekly book club sessions held in the D.C. facility. Through the virtual book club they receive books, discussion questions and writing prompts. Their responses are featured in a monthly newsletter, enabling them to engage in a written dialog with each other about the books they read. Now more Free Minds members will be able to stay involved and keep learning.
Another project supported by a DAR grant benefited the Wye River Upper School’s renovation of the old Centreville Armory on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The nonprofit college preparatory, independent high school for students challenged by ADHD, dyslexia and other unique learning styles hopes to establish its own distinct campus. The $10,000 DAR grant, sponsored by the General Perry Benson Chapter, Easton, Md., was used to abate the lead and asbestos in the old armory in preparation for its conversion to an educational facility as home of Wye River Upper School
Other education projects receiving DAR grants involved the printing, publication and distribution of educational literature. The Abraham Coryell Chapter, Vinita, Okla., sponsored the nonprofit Hope 4 Today on a literacy project that received significant local media coverage. Soon after books were distributed to elementary school students in the local area, a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Mo., 30 miles northeast of Vinita. The chapter and Hope 4 Today decided to distribute surplus books to students in the Joplin Public School District, which sustained severe facility damage, and local Red Cross shelters housing families left homeless by the tornado. The intention was to give the children a positive activity to occupy themselves in the wake of the recent devastation to their town and to motivate them to keep reading during summer vacation.
In support of projects related to patriotism, six grants totaling $17,095 were awarded. The DAR grant program funded the purchase and placement of commemorative plaques dedicated to veterans, supplies supporting programs for military personnel and their families, the distribution of American flags, and the installation of flagpoles.
The Parent-Child Development Corporation (PCDC) is a charitable, community-based organization that serves children and their parents by providing educational programs and operating the local Head Start Program. PCDC approached the Old St. John’s Church Chapter, West Point, Va., about installing a flagpole and flag on its property to instill patriotism in the children and teach them flag etiquette. The chapter began to raise money for the project and, ultimately, the chapter’s funds were supplemented by a matching DAR grant.
The most substantial grant awarded in the area of patriotism was a $10,000 grant to the Thunderbird School of Global Management, sponsored by the Anasazi Chapter, Glendale, Ariz. The grant will restore the school’s historic airfield control tower. Originally an Air Corps training base during World War II, in 1946 Thunderbird was transformed into a business school focused exclusively on international management. The air control tower, a central campus landmark and a symbol of Thunderbird’s history, was closed in 2006 because of structural damage. The renovation project will turn the Thunderbird Tower into the epicenter of the global campus. A gallery will display and preserve memorabilia that tells the story of Thunderbird’s rich history including accounts of the veterans who trained at the airfield.
These worthy efforts to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism are tangible evidence of the grassroots service DAR performs across the country. The DAR Special Projects Grants program is proving to be an important component in the organization’s efforts to preserve the past, enhance the present and invest in the future. For a complete list of all 44 DAR Special Projects Grants awarded in 2011, visit www.dar.org/grants.
The DAR Special Projects Grants program, now in its second year, currently is accepting applications from nonprofit 501(c)(3) entities. Grant proposals must be postmarked by February 1, 2012, to be considered for the upcoming year and winners will be notified in May 2012. Find more information, as well as a downloadable grant application, at www.dar.org/grants.
# # #
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, a worldwide service organization with nearly 3,000 chapters, is devoted to promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism. With more than 170,000 members, it has been one of the nation's most active service organizations since its founding in 1890. In just a few examples: Daughters provide financial support for scholarships, fund schools for underserved children, and volunteer time to local programs such as literacy tutoring. Members contribute thousands of hours of volunteer time in the nation’s VA hospitals each year as well as provide support and encouragement to active military personnel through various programs. In communities across the country, local chapters distribute thousands of U.S. Flags each year, and welcome thousands of new citizens. For more information on the work of the DAR and how to become a member, visit www.dar.org.