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Gettingthe balance right

Every time I meet with the Dukes Foundation Board as a whole or independently, I am reminded that I am working with individuals who are driven by an enormous desire to improve the society in which they live and work. It is a privilege to be the Foundation’s first Director.

The Dukes Foundation aims to be a beacon in Dukes Education Ltd.’s long-term commitment to be a socially responsible organisation. This means that the work of the Foundation has one purpose: to contribute effectively to young people, families, and communities through our grants and other charitable support, on Dukes Education’s behalf.

I can hardly contain my excitement at the possibility of what the Foundation can achieve in partnership with Dukes Education’s family of schools, colleges, nurseries, and education services. From our highly experienced executive leaders to our enormously gifted teachers, from our skilled staff to world renown expert educationalists, these talented resources bring huge opportunities for us to leverage support to our charitable beneficiaries – through volunteering, advice, intellectual capital, or many other forms of in-kind support.

However, This Dukes Foundation’s corporate purpose presents a different set of challenges to other types of grant-making organisations in the charity sector.

In terms of adhering to charity law, as a foundation closely associated with Dukes Education:

  1. We must demonstrate that it exists for the benefit of the public; and
  2. Our board of trustees must act independently and in the best interests of the Foundation, rather than Dukes Education’s

So, getting balance right between the Dukes Foundation leveraging the talent and resources of its company links and performing as an independent charitable arm is crucial.

All of the above will require high standards of charitable law compliance (we intend to exceed them), bold and brave innovation in maximising our talent and resources, and a clear strategy regarding how we are helping to transform lives.

As Foundation Director, right now, it is my primary role to establish best practice principles that are embedded in the Dukes Foundation’s governance framework and giving strategy; this includes:

  • recruiting an independent, mixed board of trustees (Dukes Education leadership, Dukes schools and colleges leadership, parents, and experts from the field of business, philanthropy, and charity).
  • ensuring our Trustees exercise independent judgement, and properly manage any conflicts of interests, and the Foundation Board receives their own legal and financial advice.
  • putting in place structures to foster of culture where the skills, knowledge and infrastructure of the Dukes business are appropriately deployed to solve social problems; and
  • developing an independent and transparent bursary and grant-making policy with trustees able to exercise their discretion to select beneficiaries in alignment with the Foundation’s mission and goals.

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