The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people`s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke`s properties. Born on November 22, 1912 in New York City, Doris Duke was the only child of James Buchanan (J.B.) Duke, a founder of the American Tobacco Company and Duke Energy Company, and his second wife, Nanaline Holt Inman Duke. When J.B. Duke died in 1925, he divided his fortune between Doris, who was then only 12 years old, and the Duke Endowment—a foundation he established to serve the people of the Carolinas. Adventurous, intelligent and independent, Doris Duke used her wealth to pursue her many interests, which included travel, the arts, historic preservation, environmental conservation, preservation of wildlife and ornamental horticulture.
Doris Duke held a deep appreciation for different cultures, and on her many travels, she acquired countless treasures from around the world, including a remarkable collection of Islamic and Southeast Asian art. Most of this collection is now on display at Shangri La, which was once her seasonal home in Honolulu, Hawaii and is now a center devoted to the study of Islamic arts and culture.
Lover of the Arts
In addition to collecting art, Doris Duke was both a patron of and a participant in the performing arts. She actively pursued various art forms including jazz piano and composition as well as modern dance, which she studied with celebrated choreographer Martha Graham.
Doris Duke was an environmentalist long before it was fashionable. She demonstrated an especially keen interest in conservation and horticulture. In her will, she envisioned that Duke Farms, a 2,000-plus acre property in central New Jersey which she inherited from her father, should serve to protect wildlife as well as be used for agriculture, horticulture and research. Inspired by this guidance, Duke Farms’ mission today is one of environmental stewardship.
Doris Duke contributed to a number of public causes, including medical research and child welfare, throughout her life. When she was just 21, she established a foundation called Independent Aid through which it is estimated that she gave away the equivalent of more than $400 million in today’s dollars during her lifetime—often as anonymous contributions. In 1968, Doris Duke also established the Newport Restoration Foundation (NRF) to save the rapidly disappearing 18th-century architecture in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon her death, she requested that NRF also take ownership of Rough Point, her home in Newport, and open it to the public as a museum.
In her will, Doris Duke left her fortune, her properties and her extensive collections of art to a foundation to be created in her name: the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The foundation has developed its activities based on her written guidance as well as the personal passions that she pursued throughout her life. With this approach, the mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, wildlife conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties.
Established in 1996, the foundation supports four national grant-making programs. It also supports three museums and centers on properties that were owned by Doris Duke in Hillsborough, New Jersey; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Newport, Rhode Island. The foundation is headquartered in New York and is governed by a board of 10 Trustees.
DDCF's activities are guided by the will of Doris Duke, who endowed the foundation with financial assets that totaled approximately $1.72 billion as of December 31, 2016. The foundation regularly evaluates and modifies its allocation of resources from the endowment to support the programs and properties and to respond to fluctuations in portfolio returns.
The foundation awarded its first grants in 1997. As of December 31, 2016, the foundation has approved grants totaling approximately $1.5 billion.
DDCF awards grants in four program areas:
- The Arts Program supports performing artists with the creation and public performance of their work.
- The Environment Program supports efforts that enable communities to protect and manage wildlife habitat and create efficient built environments.
- The Medical Research Program seeks to contribute to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease by strengthening and supporting clinical research.
- The Child Well-Being Program seeks to promote children’s healthy development and protect them from abuse and neglect.
In the fall of 2007, DDCF also launched the African Health Initiative, with the goal of strengthening health systems in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Building Bridges Program, which seeks to advance relationships, increase understanding and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, is funded through the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and is headquartered in DDCF's offices in New York.
The Museums and Centers
In her will, Doris Duke expressed her wishes that three of her former properties be opened for public visitation and used for educational programs. Each of the following receive funding from and oversight by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
- Duke Farms, a 2,700-acre center in Hillsborough, New Jersey.
- Shangri La in Honolulu, Hawaii, which serves as a museum for the study of Islamic art and cultures.
- Rough Point, a public museum maintained and operated by the Newport Restoration Foundation, which also preserves historic houses in Newport, Rhode Island.
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties. In effort to achieve this mission, the foundation supports four national grant-making programs: the Arts Program, the Child Well-being Program, the Environment Program and the Medical Research Program. It also supports the African Health Initiative as well as the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, which has one grant-making program: the Building Bridges Program. All the before-mentioned programs and initiatives are headquartered in DDCF’s New York office.