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The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations


Last Updated: 2016-02-05

At A Glance

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations

225 Water St., Ste. 1510

Jacksonville, FL United States 32202-5185

Telephone: (904) 359-0670


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2013-12-31)

Assets: $243,819,481

Total giving: $9,692,727




The Foundations are comprised of three separate foundations established in 1952 and 1965 in PA; and in 1965 in FL. In early 2001, Foundation No. 1 merged with Foundation No. 2 - Founded by the late Arthur Vining Davis, who made his fortune as an industrialist with the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). The company is a world leader in the production and management of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum and alumina combined, through its active and growing participation in all major aspects of the industry. There were three distinct Davis Foundations designated as Foundations No. 1, 2, and 3. Foundation No. 1 was organized in 1952 during Mr. Davis's lifetime. Foundations No. 2 and No. 3, substantially larger, were created upon the death of the founder in 1965. Mr. Davis's will specified their creation to receive the major share of his estate, estimated at $43 million. Foundations No. 2 and No. 3 began operations in 1967. In early 2001, Foundation No. 1 was merged with Foundation No. 2. Although the two foundations are operated and administered as separate legal entities, they share a single administrative office located in Jacksonville and are administered by one staff. Both foundations share the same board of trustees except that BNY Mellon Bank is corporate trustee for Foundation No. 2 while SunTrust Banks is corporate trustee for Foundation No. 3. The foundations advise that no purpose is served by addressing requests to one of the individual foundations, to members of the board or to an address other than that of the common office

Purpose and Activities

Support largely for private higher education; teacher professional development in health care with emphasis on caring attitudes, public television, and graduate theological education and private higher education.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Health Care

Since 1981, the foundations have focused grants in health care on “caring attitudes.” Trustees have been concerned that advances in technology and continuing changes in the health care system have diminished the humane aspects of patient care. Patients and their families often feel that their emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs are not adequately met when confronting illness. Grants in recent years have been directed toward strengthening medical school training in areas of communication, compassion, and sensitivity; improving end of life and palliative care; and other projects focused primarily on individual groups of health care professionals.The focus of the caring attitudes effort has recently been expanded to encourage projects at a systemic level that contribute to improving patients' experiences of health care. There continues to be a need for a more integrated approach to patient care whether during an outpatient visit or in a hospital setting. In Nov. 2014, the foundations' trustees decided to end the foundations' recent philanthropic support for "caring attitudes" in healthcare programs and to seek to broaden their focus to medicine, health, and possibly medical research, in the coming years. Throughout 2015 and 2016, the trustees are engaged with thought leaders nationwide to explore future philanthropic priorities in medicine and health. By early 2017, the foundations will announce the results of their review. Proposals will not be accepted for this program in 2015 and 2016.

Private Higher Education

The Foundations have been strongly committed to the support of private higher education in America. Trustees have concentrated on privately governed and supported four-year, residential, liberal arts institutions which place strong emphasis on teaching and whose students choose majors primarily in the arts and sciences rather than career or vocational studies. Support generally is reserved for schools of broadly acknowledged academic excellence and a solid record of financial strength with outstanding support from trustees and alumni/ae. A few grants are made to larger teaching and research universities with a national reputation for excellence in undergraduate education. Grants also are made competitively each year to help improve Historically Black Colleges, Native American tribal colleges, colleges in Appalachia, and similar schools providing opportunities for traditionally underserved students. Work College Consortium members are eligible to apply. Presidents have maximum flexibility in selecting a high priority for improving the educational experience. Competing requests are evaluated on two primary criteria: 1) overall quality of the institution and 2) the impact and lasting value that a proposed grant would have on the educational experience. Trustees have no preference for any particular type of project. In the case of leading universities, requests should reflect the priority of the President for improving undergraduate education and offer considerable potential to influence undergraduate education beyond the university. Proposals should be signed by the president of the institution. Institutions in presidential transition are not eligible. A president should be in office for at least one year prior to submitting a grant request. Because of intense competition in the higher education program and the Foundations’ limited resources, institutions receiving grants should wait at least four years from notification of an award before reapplying for another grant. Colleges and universities with innovative programs for strengthening teachers and their teaching in grades 9 through 12 should refer to the description of the Secondary Education program. The higher and secondary education programs are independent and grant requests may be submitted in both programs at the same time.

Public Television

Support for public television is primarily for its educational value. Grants ordinarily will be made to provide partial support for major series of educational programs as opposed to single programs or program series which essentially are entertaining in nature. Children's series are of special interest, as are those on history and science. The contribution to students in grades K-12, higher and continuing education is a consideration in evaluating competing proposals. To be competitive, a series also should be assured of national distribution through the Public Broadcasting System. Although series are preferred, exceptions may be made for stand-alone programs of exceptional merit. Proposals for "capstone" grants which assure completion of production funding are preferred. Neither multi-year funding nor annual funding of continuing series are normally considered. .


The foundations' principal commitment in the field of religion is to graduate theological education. The foundations believe that theological education makes an important contribution to our nation's moral integrity and future. Grants are made to U.S. institutions that are fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. All denominations are eligible. As in their private higher education program, evaluations of competing requests focus on the overall quality of the applying institutions. The Trustees' goal is to make good institutions even better. Support goes generally to seminaries or divinity schools known for academic excellence and whose primary mission is to prepare students for ordination to pastoral or pulpit ministry. These institutions should have a solid record of financial stability, including strong trustee and alumni/ae support, and a faculty of high quality. They should also be preparing students for leadership on the complex social and moral issues facing the church such as interfaith dialogue and understanding poverty, sexual orientation, gender, and end of life. Requests for funding must be made by the CEO for a purpose that reflects a high priority. Competing requests are evaluated on the overall quality of the theological school and the relative impact that a proposed grant would have on the educational experience. Therefore, the Chief Executive has flexibility in selecting a high priority that has direct bearing on improving the educational mission. The foundations' Trustees have no preference for any particular category or type of project. It is assumed that the CEO will seek to maximize the potential impact and lasting value of our grants.

Secondary Education

The objective of this program is to help strengthen education in grades 9-12; the majority of grants are made to innovative professional development programs that strengthen teachers and their teaching. In considering proposals to support high school teaching, collaborative partnerships between the faculties of colleges (e.g., arts and sciences and education) and high schools or combined efforts involving reform organizations, colleges/universities and high schools are encouraged. Proposals may cover a wide range of initiatives intended to improve teaching. Proposals under this program will be accepted from institutions ranging from graduate schools of education to free-standing educational research institutes. Public as well as private universities and colleges are eligible for funding; only in exceptional cases will proposals be accepted directly from individual private or public schools or school districts. Proposals should strive to develop solutions with potential for wide application.

Fields of Interest

  • Film and video
  • Graduate and professional education
  • Higher education
  • Medical education
  • Secondary education
  • Theology
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Students

Financial Data

Year ended 2013-12-31

Assets: $243,819,481 (market value)

Expenditures: $12,144,977

Total giving: $9,692,727

Qualifying distributions: $11,420,491

Giving activities include:

$9,692,727 for 65 grants (high: $300,000; low: $1,200)