Learn More About DAR Special Projects Grants

Written by: Dianne B. Janis, National Chair, Special Projects Grants Committee
October 24, 2014

Have you ever dreamed you could rescue an unwanted dog from a shelter, have it trained, then donate it to a military service member with PTSD or traumatic brain injury?   Or perhaps you’ve seen an inner-city school with no resources for a music program but an instructor eager to teach and students excited to learn if only they had instruments.  Each time you’ve passed that pre-Revolutionary War church with its badly leaking roof and interior threatened, you may have wondered if there’s a way to save it.   DAR Special Projects Grants are the answer! This year DAR has partnered in each of these projects and forty more!

DAR Grants, funded by a portion of every dollar donated to the President General’s Project, help preserve historical buildings, cemeteries and documents.  Education grants give financing to programs using volunteers and professionals who teach English as a second language, create innovative ways to bring American history alive in classrooms and cooperate with libraries to offer the internet in their rural areas.  Using a DAR Patriotism grant, a lift-gate was installed on a van so medical staff at a veterans’ medical facility could transport wheelchair-bound patients, and another helped fund the building of a chapel in a military cemetery for funeral services of veterans. Approximately $250,000 per year is awarded to these types of worthy causes. 

During the holidays last year my dining room table was buried with over two hundred grant applications and I read every one!   Three piles grew every time my mail carrier delivered another basket of fat envelopes – one stack received those ready for judging, another heap had those needing a bit more information if there was time before the deadline, but I dreaded adding to the third mound of those not eligible for judging.  So many times those in the last pile could have been saved from disqualification had the writer more carefully read and followed the guidance at www.dar.org/grants. I hope you will explore the site and consider applying for a grant in your local community.

Later this fall, I’ll have the honor of visiting Henderson Hall in Parkersburg, WV and viewing original letters and other documents written by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry and others which a DAR grant is helping to preserve.  During the same trip, I’ll tour other grant recipients Ye Towne of Bath, WV and see the new signs marking historic locations, and the Chattanooga, TN History Center’s exhibit on the Cherokee vs the United States of America.

During a luncheon during Continental Congress this year, I discovered I was sitting next to Diana Diggines of Walter Hines Page Chapter, in London.  This chapter successfully sponsored a grant application from Sulgrave Manor, home of the ancestors of George Washington.  Portraits of the Father of our Country and pieces of painted furniture of that period were in need of restoration, and through its grant program, DAR participated in the rescue of these priceless treasures. 

As much as I love reading about the wonderful historic, educational and patriotic projects going on all over our country and overseas, it’s even more heartwarming every year to notify over forty applicants that they’ve been awarded grants and to read their excitement when they answer, thanking DAR for helping them accomplish their goals.  They send me updates and photos, and share the newspaper articles they write about their grants.  Elsie Fetterman, an 87-year old grant writer, created such enthusiastic articles that nearly a dozen area papers published her submissions! 

Is your chapter planning to sponsor a local non-profit’s grant application, or directly apply for a grant in its own name?   It’s easier than you may think.  Begin by carefully reading the Special Projects Grants webpages.  Is the applicant a public charity non-profit?  Does the applicant have secured funds to complete the project, less the amount of the grant request?  Can the project be completed in one year after being notified of the success of the grant award?   If the project meets these requirements and exemplifies one of the three mission areas of DAR – historic preservation, education or patriotism – I encourage you to participate in the program! Remember that applicants who received a grant during the Wright Administration are now eligible to apply for another grant through the Young Administration. 

Visit the Special Projects Grants website or contact me at dargrants@dar.org if you, or your community non-profit, have any questions.  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.