Grant Making Policies and Practices

The Foundation makes contributions to charitable organizations exemplifying the core values of Joe C. Davis:  the importance of personal initiative, perseverance, hard work, education, and entrepreneurship.

The Foundation’s primary areas of focus are education, healthcare, and community and social services.  Geographically, the Foundation’s focus is the Nashville, Tennessee area.

The Foundation seeks to invest in organizations with strong leadership; organizations with long-term, sustainable financial models; and organizations that are the leading experts in the relevant area of service.


The Foundation supports a wide range of education-related organizations.

In recent years, the Foundation’s support of public K-12 educational programs has focused primarily on recruitment and development of top talent in the education sector, and on increasing the supply of high-performing charter schools.  The Foundation’s support of private, tuition-based K-12 educational institutions is now limited to Montgomery Bell Academy and Harpeth Hall School, where the Foundation primarily funds need-based scholarships for academically promising students.

The Foundation supports a variety of early childhood programs, after-school programs, adult education programs, and workforce development programs.  The Foundation has also supported a limited number of post-secondary institutions, most notably Vanderbilt University, but also a few others from time to time, particularly in specialized areas of training.


The Foundation supports a broad array of healthcare organizations and endeavors.  These have included medical training, health and wellness initiatives, medical clinics serving the underinsured, addiction services, mental health services, and crisis services.  Within these areas, the Foundation has, from time to time, funded facilities, research, technology, and routine services.   At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the Foundation has primarily supported research and medical training.

Community and Social Services

The Foundation supports a wide variety of social service organizations, with a particular focus on helping children reach their highest potential and helping adults become self-sufficient. Programming areas include such things as youth mentoring, parent education, workforce development, affordable housing, and community resource centers.

Excluded Categories

Except as may be incidental to other programs, the Foundation does not provide funding for (a) the arts, (b) environmental causes, or (c) religious activities. The Foundation also does not make grants to individuals or for the support of fundraising events or dinners.

Types of Grants

The Foundation generally prefers to make one-time grants designed to enhance existing programs, and sometimes to create new ones if they have a long-term financial sustainability model. The Foundation will also consider capital requests, including facility funding. The Foundation will consider relatively small grant requests in support of regular ongoing operating costs; however, multiple requests from the same organization over consecutive years are reviewed to be sure the Foundation is not creating excessive ongoing dependency upon its grants.

The Foundation’s larger grants are typically made only after fairly extensive interaction between the Foundation and the grant seeker over an extended period.