Jessie Ball duPont Fund

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Jessie Ball duPont Fund logo

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund, "Florida's leading national foundation",[1] is a charitable foundation that issues grants to organizations that received support from Jessie Ball duPont during the years 1960-1964 inclusive. When she died on September 26, 1970, the bulk of her estimated $42 million estate, one of the largest in Florida history, became the Jessie Ball duPont Religious, Charitable and Educational Fund.[2]

The beginning[edit]

Portrait of Jessie Ball

When Jessie Ball was a teacher in San Diego, California, she invested profitably in the stock market and real estate which she used to fund need-based college scholarships, which eventually exceeded 100.[2] After her marriage to Alfred I. duPont in 1921, she continued making charitable gifts, but on a larger scale. When her husband died in 1935, she was his primary beneficiary and became president or board member to many groups and foundations. However, she turned over most of those responsibilities to her brother, Edward Ball. She preferred to spend her time on philanthropy and let Edward handle the business dealings, which he did for the next 35 years.[2]

Her personal generosity lasted for half a century, during which she provided scholarships for hundreds of college students (mostly in the southeast), made gifts to colleges and universities (numerous libraries were built), assisted hundreds of churches (all denominations), major charities, children's homes, historic buildings and art museums.[2]

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund of today continues to assist the 325+ "eligible institutions" that received financial support from Jessie Ball duPont during the first half of the 1960s. The entities include names familiar to everyone as well as groups in small towns known only to local residents. Among the recipients are 65 colleges & universities, 84 churches, 14 religious entities, 18 schools, 37 social service agencies, 9 youth organizations, 24 preservation associations, 31 medical, 11 cultural and 33 civic groups. The recipients are located all over the United States.[3]

Fund established[edit]

More than six years passed between Jessie Ball duPont's death and her estate being settled. The fund was granted tax-exempt status in April, 1973,[4] but the first meeting of the trustees was not until January, 1977. Those four individuals were: Edward Ball, Jessie's brother; William Mills, Jessie's charitable advisor; Rev. "Sandy" Juhan, the Episcopal Bishop's son; and Irvin Golden from Florida National Bank, the corporate executor. Hazel Williams, Jessie's personal secretary, was invited because of her knowledge of the way Jessie determined who received gifts and the amount of the gift. That first year, Miss Williams suggested 113 grants for a total of $4.2 million, which the trustees approved. One of the will's provisions specified that the clerical trustee would be appointed by the acting bishop from the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. Another rule required trustees to retire from the board at age 70.[5]

Current operation[edit]

The present Jessie Ball duPont Fund has changed significantly. In order to diversify the composition of the board, the trust received judicial permission in 2003 to increase the number of trustees to seven instead of the original four.[5][6] Later that year, a Statement of Investment Policy Goals and Guidelines was formulated and adopted by the board on January 9, 2004.[7] Since 1993, the president of the fund has been Dr. Sherry P. Magill.[8] The value of the fund's assets as of 2007 was $286,534,736 and income for the year was $160,892,586.[4] A professional staff reviews and evaluates the requests from the 325 eligible entities and makes recommendations to the trustees, who award approximately $15 million in grants each year.[8] However, the recipients are encouraged to be innovative and think beyond the people they normally assist. According to their website, the Fund focuses on five areas:[9]

  • Strengthening the Independent Sector
  • Building Assets of People, Families and Communities
  • Building the Capacity of Eligible Organizations
  • Stimulating Community Problem Solving
  • Helping People Hold their Communities Accountable

Jessie Ball duPont said, "Don't call it charity. I think it is an obligation." Those who work for the fund consider it a privilege.[2]



  • Leroy Davis, Chair
  • Thomas H. Jeavons, Vice Chair
  • Mary Lynn Huntley, Trustee
  • Rev. Eddie E. Jones Jr., Clerical Trustee
  • Audrey McKibbin Moran, Trustee
  • Mary K. Phillips, Trustee
  • Stephen A. Lynch III, Corporate Trustee


  • Rev. "Sandy" Juhan, Clerical Trustee, 1977–1985
  • Rev. George C. Bedell, Clerical Trustee, 1985–1998
  • Rev. Frank S. Cerveny, Clerical Trustee, 1998–2003
  • Jean W. Ludlow, Trustee 1985-2005
  • Ed Ball, 1977–1981
  • William B. Mills, 1977–1986
  • Irvin Golden, Corporate Trustee 1977-


  1. ^ [1] Florida Community Loan Fund, Our Impact: Investor Stories
  2. ^ a b c d e [2] Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, History
  3. ^ [3] Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Organizations
  4. ^ a b [4] Tax Exempt World, Organization Search by City, Jacksonville, Florida
  5. ^ a b Kerr, Jessie-Lynn: [5] Florida Times-Union, September 19, 2003-Retiring bishop is new duPont trustee
  6. ^ [6] Florida Trend, July 1, 2003-Dupont fund seeks changes
  7. ^ [7] Council on Foundations, Jessie Ball duPont Fund
  8. ^ a b [8] Florida Philanthropic Network, Board of Directors
  9. ^ [9] Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, About

External links[edit]