Shaping our Future: Update on the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations' Strategic Plan

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations' Board of Trustees recently completed a comprehensive, three-year process of strategic planning in advance of the Foundations’ 65th anniversary. This systematic review of program areas and funding priorities proceeded in the context of both the founder’s vision and contemporary philanthropic opportunities and challenges.

The AVDF Trustees and staff participated in conversations with scholars and thought leaders across the nation to better understand current philanthropic opportunities that align with our founder’s vision and that informed philanthropic priorities in the decade ahead. The trustees acquired both context and knowledge about emerging trends, strategies and approaches in each of our current program areas and new exploration into the environment and palliative care. Several of these informative briefings were designed to explore future partnerships in our philanthropic leadership on a national scale. The briefings held included:

Lumina and the Leadership Model of Philanthropy, Charlottesville, VA
  • Jamie Merisotis, President & CEO, Lumina Foundation
Harvard Briefing for Future Philanthropic Priorities: Approaches to Interdisciplinary Academic Research & Student Programs, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Participants: David N. Hempton, Dean, Harvard Divinity School; Catherine Brekus, Professor, Harvard Divinity School; Francis Clooney, Professor, Harvard Divinity School; Diana Eck, Founder and Director, The Pluralism Project; Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School; Howard Koh, Professor, Harvard School of Public Health; Daniel Shapiro, Founder and Director, Harvard International Negotiation Program; James Ryan, Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education; and Erin Driver-Linn, Director, Harvard Initiative on Learning and Teaching
Liberal Arts College Model: Insight from the Inside, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • Participants: Biddy Martin, President, Amherst College; Clayton Rose, President, Bowdoin College; and Clayton Spencer, Bates College
Academic Quality and the Undergraduate Experience: Philanthropy’s Role and Responsibility, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
  • Participants: John DeGioia, President, Georgetown University; Robert Groves, Provost, Georgetown University; Thomas Banchoff, Director, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs; Marta Urquilla, Deputy Director, Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation; and Timothy Warren, Co-Chair, Georgetown Environment Initiative
Myths and Realities in Higher Education and the Changing Landscape of Liberal Arts Colleges, Philadelphia, PA
  • Participants: Daniel R. Porterfield, President, Franklin & Marshall College; Daniel H. Weiss, President, Haverford College; and Alison Byerly, President, Lafayette College
The Future of Conservation, Charlottesville, VA
  • Mark Tercek, President & CEO, The Nature Conservancy
The Environment: How Philanthropy Can Move the Needle, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA
  • Participants: James Yoder, Dean, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Max Holmes, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center; David Ralston, Associate Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Fiamma Straneo, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; and Huntington Willard, President and Director, Marine Biological Laboratory
Convening on Interfaith Leadership and Religious Literacy: The Role of Grant Making, Interfaith Youth Core, Chicago, IL
  • Participants: Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core; Shaun Casey, Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Jennifer Peace, Associate Professor of Interfaith Studies, Andover Newton Theological School; Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion, Boston University; and Rabbi Or Rose, Director, Center for Global Judaism, Hebrew College
A Leadership Imperative: Interfaith Literacy, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
  • Participants: Laurie Patton, President, Middlebury College; Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core
Trends in High Impact Philanthropy for Medicine and Health, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Participants: Gregory Gores, Executive Dean for Research, Mayo Clinic; Richard Weinshilboum, Center for Individualized Medicine, Mayo Clinic; Steven Moran, Surgical Director, Plastic Surgery, Mayo Clinic; and Mark McNiven, Center for Biomedical Discovery, Mayo Clinic
Philanthropic Opportunities in Medical Research, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
  • William Brody, Professor Emeritus, Salk Institute
Trends in Medicine and Palliative Care, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
  • Atul Gawande, Director, Ariadne Labs and Author, Being Mortal
The Imperative of Early Childhood Literacy Philanthropy, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
  • Miguel “Mike” Bezos, Vice President and Co-founder, Bezos Family Foundation
Aspen Ideas Festival and the Launch of the AVDF Aspen Fellows Program, Aspen, CO
  • The Aspen Institute

As a result of these meetings, in October 2016, the trustees approved a strategic plan that will continue our long-standing commitment to philanthropy marked by integrity, high impact practices, sound grantee partnerships, and national scope. Please visit the Programs and Grants areas in the website to obtain specific information on the new strategic plan and application process. 


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