DAR Special Projects Grants - Making a Difference

Written by: Dianne B. Janis, National Chair, Special Projects Grants Committee
September 11, 2015

“Bringing internet access to our library and our residents has truly changed our small town.”

“Thank you for helping us test the water in the river!  It was neat!”  (10 year old student)

“Every time someone asks, ‘How can your program afford such great books?’ we answer, ‘Because of DAR!’”

We’ve all heard the phrase “DAR is making a difference!” but as the Special Projects Grants National Chair, I continually see or hear about those differences.   Children write thank you notes, chapter regents exuberantly email details and photos of their projects’ progress and non-profits express their gratitude to DAR for enabling special projects in their communities.  The common thread from all is, “Without the help of DAR, we would never have been able to accomplish this.”

The Walter Hines Page Chapter in London, UK sponsored a Historic Preservation grant application to restore an early Gilbert Stuart painting of George Washington located at Sulgrave Manor.  Since Sulgrave is the ancestral home of Washington, the painting is particularly meaningful to the area’s residents and visitors.  As Valentine Walsh, a renowned art restorer, continues to clean away many years of grime and hardened overpainting, she has discovered remnants of a red curtain behind Washington’s head, and a glimpse of sky appearing near the curtain.  Since none of the previous iterations of Stuart’s Washington portraits include these details, and the fact that the portrait is a three-quarter view showing the left side of the sitter’s face, this portrait is particularly significant.

With the aid of an Education grant, nearly 500 students from Dearborn, MI K-12 schools learned firsthand the benefits of the restoration and stewardship of the Rouge River ecosystem with a particular focus on pollution.  Participants study the river’s history, receive classroom training and hands-on experience by performing scientific tests to determine the health of the river.  Students and staff were excited to be interviewed on a local college radio station and later on a local CBS channel.    And many of the schoolchildren created enthusiastic notes of appreciation to the committee – one hand drawn puzzle I’m still trying to solve! 

Through a Patriotism grant, DAR partnered with a veterans organization to provide a hydraulic lift gate for a van to transport wheelchair-bound veterans to medical appointments, job training, benefits advisors and special events.  Before this grant was awarded, volunteers were required to manually lift the veterans and their chairs into the van.  Final correspondence from the Executive Director proclaimed, “It’s hard to know who is more pleased with the lift gate – the veterans or the volunteers!”

Since the program’s inception in 2011, DAR has awarded grants to non-profits, DAR chapters and state societies whose projects exemplify one of the mission areas of DAR: historic preservation, education and patriotism.   Through these five years, DAR has partnered with organizations in communities across the country and overseas with grants totaling $1,250,000.  Approximately 45 grants have been awarded annually, ranging from a few hundred dollars to the maximum of $10,000.  These awards are funded by the President General’s Project.

The Special Projects Grants Program has a section on the public website and a committee page on the members’ website that offers the program’s requirements, instructions and guidance that will assist with the creation of an application.  Any DAR chapter, state society or public charity 501(c)(3) non-profit may apply with an eligible project and secured funds to complete the project, less the amount of the grant award.  Projects may not begin before notification of the grant award (May 1, 2016). 

The postmark deadline for mailing applications this year is again December 31.   However, the writer is strongly encouraged to mail their application a few weeks early so that if there is a problem with the application, we would have time, before the deadline, to attempt to resolve the issue and qualify the application for judging.  

After reading the committee webpages, if the applicant has any questions, please urge them to contact me at dargrants@dar.org.   I’d be delighted to help.  And if a PDF copy of my Continental Congress Forum presentation would be helpful, email me at dargrants@dar.org to request it.   I’m here to serve!

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Historic Preservation,
Education, Patriotism

Through restoring historic properties, funding scholarships and supporting our troops, DAR makes a difference in local communities.