The Past, Present and Future of DuPont
The company and family continue to have influence on First Staters’ lives.
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And that, Provine says, is pretty much what has happened in the past decade or so.
Du Pont family members still are significant donors to Delaware charities, says Sears, the Delaware Community Foundation president and CEO, but since they have so many different surnames, “you might have one of these folks supporting your organization and you won’t even know they’re a du Pont.”
“As generations go along, the pot of money gets split up, and split up and split up,” Stabler says. “Family members today don’t have the capability of making gifts with the kind of significance” that their parents and grandparents made.
The Copelands merit a high profile for their financial support of the arts, most notably the Delaware Art Museum, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, The Grand Opera House and OperaDelaware.
“They’ve saved my bacon many times,” says Steve Bailey, The Grand’s executive director. Their premier accomplishment, Bailey says, might be in having convinced arts organizations to collaborate more and compete less.
About seven years ago, Bailey says, Tatiana Copeland brought together the executive directors and board chairs of The Grand, the art museum, the symphony, OperaDelaware and the Delaware Theatre Company and said, in essence, “you are going to do these things because you need to do these things if you want to survive.” Those meetings, he says, spawned the Delaware Arts Alliance, a statewide arts advocacy organization, as well as the ubiquitous In Wilmington marketing campaign, and increased state funding for the arts.
As for the foundations, Bailey and other nonprofit leaders say that Longwood has become more rigorous in its reviews of grant applications since Thère du Pont took over as its president in 2009.
“Thère has been driving a more professional set of policies around what nonprofits do to be deserving of donations,” Sears says. No longer is it simply a matter of asking for money. Rather, he says, “it’s what are you trying to do, how are you measuring it, and before you come back for more, you’ve got to demonstrate to us that you’re successful.”
Support for this approach comes from Cristina Alvarez, CEO of the Delaware Design-Lab High School, a new charter school planning to open in Wilmington this fall, which received a $250,000 challenge grant to help with startup expenses. “Foundations have to be accountable for how they steward funds. I understand why [Thère du Pont] said we’re going to ask you to specify measurable results. I don’t have a problem with that,” Alvarez says.