Press Releases

Dyson Foundation, Marist Poll Release Findings of Hudson Valley Issues Study

October 3, 2002

Lee Miringoff
Marist College Institute for Public Opinion

Diana Gurieva
The Dyson Foundation

POUGHKEEPSIE – Residents of the Hudson Valley enjoy living here and feel they make a difference in their communities. They express concern about a number of issues, especially the economy, education and health care. And, community leaders feel pretty much the same way on the issues of the day as the public.

The study, “Many Voices, One Valley,” is a project of the Dyson Foundation, the largest foundation in the Hudson Valley and the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. A total of 3,882 residents in Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam and Ulster counties were polled, as were an additional 245 community leaders in those counties. It is the most comprehensive survey done of the region.

“The Dyson Foundation commissioned this survey to begin a dialogue on the issues that need to be addressed in both the short- and long-term,” said foundation president Robert R. Dyson. “The good news is that the Hudson Valley is a wonderful place to live. This study shows there are needs which we as a community must tackle, particularly when it comes to providing affordable health care and quality public education.”

“What makes this project special is that by joining forces the Dyson Foundation and Marist College are able to provide information that can serve as a resource for community leaders and the public,” said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Among the study’s central findings:

  • 88% of Hudson Valley residents rate their community positively. In fact, 63% of residents rate their community very highly - as either an excellent or a very good place to live.
  • 76% of Hudson Valley residents believe they can have at least a moderate impact on making their community a better place to live with 57% being active in local organizations.
  • The economic vitality of the region, the quality of the public schools, and the affordability of health care are the top priorities for both Hudson Valley residents and community leaders. Differences in priorities emerge among segments of the population based on income, age and race.
  • Hudson Valley residents are particularly concerned about jobs. 57% of Hudson Valley residents do not rate the quality of jobs in their community positively. In contrast, 51% of community leaders in the Hudson Valley do rate the quality of jobs positively.
  • Most Hudson Valley residents (70%) and community leaders (67%) rate the public schools in their community positively. However, only 11% of Hudson Valley residents and 9% of community leaders rate the public schools as excellent.
  • 24% of Hudson Valley households either are currently without health insurance or have had at least one member of their household go without health insurance within the past year.
Two surveys were conducted. The first survey interviewed 3,882 residents in the six counties that define the Hudson Valley region. The counties included Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster. Interviews of Hudson
Valley residents were administered by telephone from October 5th through December 10th, 2001.

A second companion survey was conducted with 245 community leaders within the same six counties. This scientifically selected sample of community leaders included government and elected officials, heads of major institutions, prominent members of the media, and business executives. Interviews of Hudson Valley community leaders were conducted by telephone from November 15th through December 19th, 2001.

The sampling error for the results of the survey of Hudson Valley residents, 3,882 interviews, is ±2%. The sampling error for the results of the survey of Hudson Valley community leaders, 245 interviews, is ±6.5%.

The complete results for the study are available on the Internet at It can also be accessed from the Dyson Foundation website ( or the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion website ( The full report along with summaries for Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster counties are available. Copies on CD-ROM are also available from the Dyson Foundation's offices.

Additional, in-depth analyses on children’s issues, access to health care, and tolerance and racial disparities will be available later in the fall.

For more information about this press release, contact:
Lee Miringoff, Marist College
Institute for Public Opinion
(845) 575-5050
Diana Gurieva, The Dyson Foundation
(845) 677-0644

Foundation Funds Regional 'Whole Family' ESL Initiative

Dyson Provides $735,000 to 5 English as Second Language Programs

September 24, 2007

Michelle Rhone-Collins
Beacon Community Center

Denise Quis
Center of the Square

Linda Kaplan
First Presbyterian Church of Millerton

Greta Boeringer
Hudson Area Association Library

Eric Gullickson
SUNY New Paltz

Stephen Densmore
The Dyson Foundation

MILLBROOK—The Dyson Foundation has committed $735,000 to fund five new or enhanced English as a Second Language (ESL) programs designed to address the growing need for adult and family-oriented English language classes among the Mid-Hudson Valley’s burgeoning immigrant population.

Located throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley, ESL grant program recipients include the Beacon Community Center, $195,000; Poughkeepsie’s Center of the Square, $105,000; Hudson Area Association Library, $180,000; First Presbyterian Church of Millerton, $30,000; and the State University of New York at New Paltz, $225,000.

The grants provide three years of funding for classes targeting the needs of immigrant and migrant families, in most cases providing them with assistance overcoming common attendance barriers such as transportation and child care. Each program utilizes unique approaches to teaching English to immigrants, from a cooking-oriented theme at Center of the Square to an intensive, immersion approach at SUNY New Paltz.

“Given the changing demographics of the Mid-Hudson Valley, and given the barriers that non-English speakers face, the Dyson Foundation felt it was important to support English language acquisition as a way of removing some of those barriers,” said Michell Speight, director of programs at the Dyson Foundation. “We are very pleased to be awarding multi-year grants to these five organizations to help expand and enhance the availability of ESL programs in our region.”

  • Michelle Rhone-Collins, executive director of the Beacon Community Center, said the grant will help the Center draw a growing but isolated group of people into the community. “Within Beacon there’s a large immigrant population that’s not seen and not heard. This will help them to be a part of this community,” said Rhone-Collins, who cited studies demonstrating that increased English proficiency among immigrant families correlates with greater success financially, socially and educationally. (According to the 2000 Census, fluent English-speaking immigrants earn nearly double that of non-English speaking workers and have substantially lower unemployment rates.)
  • Aileen Hanel, coordinator of the Language Immersion Program at SUNY New Paltz, said the grant will allow the college to provide intensive, “real world oriented” English immersion classes for nearly 390 individuals and families over a three-year period. While many immigrant children are currently learning English through school district based ESL classes, she pointed out, the adults in their families are often unable to help their children with homework or address other important economic and cultural issues due to a lack of English language skills. “These intensive weekend classes will not only help them with English, they’ll get help with life skills. There will be a cultural component as well,” Hanel said. “This grant will allow us to serve a huge community that, so far, we haven’t been able to.”
  • Greta Boeringer, director of the Hudson Area Association Library, said her communitycentered library will partner with the highly-effective nonprofit Literacy Connections to help address what she sees as “an intense community need” in the City of Hudson. Although most of the ESL programs will primarily serve the Valley’s rapidly growing Hispanic population, Boeringer noted that Hudson has seen a significant influx of Bengalis over the last several years and that the program will be tailored to help that group attain English language skills as well.
  • Denise Quis, president of Center of the Square, said the Poughkeepsie based community service organization will expand upon an already effective and unique ESL program—a series of family-based cooking classes—that utilizes a former Culinary Institute of America grad who is also a trained ESL instructor. “We did it last year and it was an overwhelming success,” said Quis. “In our classes it’s more of a working language. Everyone likes to eat and cook.”
  • Linda Kaplan of the First Presbyterian Church of Millerton said the grant will allow her church in the rural Dutchess County village to continue providing a popular ESL program to a surprisingly high immigrant population. With 51 current students enrolled in the year around ESL program, Kaplan said, church leaders began offering the classes in 2005 as a way of crossing the language barrier with a new segment of their community. “We felt there was a need to reach out and welcome these people and make them feel at home,” Kaplan said.

Last spring, the Dyson Foundation issued a request for proposals from Mid-Hudson Valley nonprofits to address a perceived need for expanded and enhanced family-focused English as a Second Language programs in the region. At its September board meeting, the Dyson Foundation’s Board of Directors approved the five ESL grants.

Established in 1957, the Dyson Foundation is a private, family-directed grantmaking foundation led by Robert R. Dyson, who has served as the Foundation’s President since 2000. Headquartered in Millbrook, the Foundation awards grants through a diverse regional funding program serving the Mid-Hudson Valley’s Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia, Greene, Putnam and Orange counties. The Foundation’s assets stand at approximately $337 million and, in 2006, it awarded grants in excess of $18.4 million.

For more information about this press release, contact:
Michelle Rhone-Collins, Beacon Community Center, 845-831-6180
Denise Quis, Center of the Square, 845-471-3068
Linda Kaplan, First Presbyterian Church of Millerton, 518-789-4664
Greta Boeringer, Hudson Area Association Library, 518-828-1792
Eric Gullickson, SUNY New Paltz, 845-257-3245
Stephen Densmore, The Dyson Foundation, 845-234-8713

Dyson Foundation Retains Densmore as Press Liaison

May 18, 2007

MILLBROOK—The Dyson Foundation has retained Stephen Densmore of Poughkeepsie to serve as its press liaison, responsible for handling media relations on behalf of the Millbrook-based philanthropic foundation.

“We are delighted to have a person with Steve’s background and expertise helping to direct the Dyson Foundation’s media relations efforts,” said Dyson Foundation Executive Vice President Diana Gurieva. “We find it is increasingly important to engage the press creatively on behalf of our grantees and the key issues facing Hudson Valley residents. An experienced media professional, like Steve, will help us do that.”

Currently, Densmore serves as the communications director for Pattern for Progress, a Newburgh-based regional planning and advocacy organization. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and the Vassar Warner Senior Residence. Previously, Densmore was the editor and publisher of the Poughkeepsie Beat newspaper (which he co-founded with Jessica Beasimer in 1995) and he held several posts for the Taconic Press newspaper group, including reporter, managing editor and assistant publisher.

“I look forward to this opportunity to assist an organization I have long admired. The Dyson Foundation thoughtfully gives where it’s most needed throughout the Hudson Valley,” said Densmore. “It will be my job to advocate for coverage in support of those nonprofits and issues championed by the Foundation. I am anxious to work with the Hudson Valley’s media in this regard.”

The Dyson Foundation is a private, family-directed grantmaking foundation established in 1957 and headquartered in Millbrook, New York. The Foundation's assets presently stand at approximately $337 Million and, in 2006, it awarded grants in excess of $18.4 Million. The Dyson Foundation’s current grantmaking includes a significant grants program in the Mid-Hudson Valley that seeks to improve the quality of life in the region, create opportunities and support for economically disadvantaged individuals and families, and strengthen the nonprofit sector. Those interested in learning more about the Dyson Foundation should visit its website at

For more information about this press release, contact:
Diana Gurieva
Executive Vice President
The Dyson Foundation

Fiftieth Anniversary Grants

Dyson Foundation Awards $28 Million to Celebrate its 50th Anniversary

January 31, 2007

Theresa Gill

To celebrate and commemorate its 50 years of grantmaking, the Dyson Foundation has awarded major grants totaling $28,000,000 to several organizations. These include:

  • $7.5 million to Pace University (New York and Pleasantville, New York) for scholarships, to create the Dyson Student Opportunities Fund, and for the renovation of the Dyson School science laboratories.
  • $5 million to the Weill Cornell Medical College (New York, New York) towards the Ophthalmology Floor of their new Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building.
  • $5 million to Health Quest, Inc. (Poughkeepsie, New York) to enhance and upgrade medical information technology throughout the hospital system (Health Quest includes Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, and Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel).
  • $5 million to Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) for the creation and endowment of the Dyson Scholars Program in the Department of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  • $5 million to Marietta College (Marietta, Ohio) towards the construction of a new college library (this grant was previously announced).
  • $500,000 to the Pierpont Morgan Library (New York, NY) for the recent renovation and expansion of the library.

Additional information about each of these grants is included in the attached information sheet.

In 1957 Charles H. and Margaret M. Dyson established the Dyson Foundation, which took in the assets of an earlier trust (dating to 1949). Charles (1909-1997), or Charlie as he was known, became a renowned pioneer in the field of leveraged buyouts. An unpretentious, industrious man, with a true financial genius, Charlie was the son of immigrants of modest means. He went to work after finishing high school in Englewood, New Jersey and attended night classes at what was then Pace Institute (now Pace University). After working for an accounting firm, followed by an extraordinary period of public service with the U.S. Army Air Force and the Department of the Treasury during the Second World War, he worked for several large manufacturing businesses before he started his own company in 1954. That business, now called the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, became a large international holding company. Known as much for his community service as his business acumen, Charlie was a well-respected philanthropist and fundraiser for the many organizations that were beneficiaries of his largesse. His wife Margaret (1911-1990), was his constant partner in all of his endeavors for over 50 years, from weighing in on his business transactions to making her mark on their philanthropic activities. Together they raised four children, John (b. 1943), Rob (b. 1946), Anne (1947-2000) and Peter (b. 1951).

The Dyson Foundation was established to facilitate and formalize the family’s charitable giving and was intended to be a permanent vehicle for family philanthropy. Some years later when Charlie Dyson was asked why he and his wife had begun the foundation, he replied that he and Margaret “were making a little more money than we expected” and that “we were not giving away as much as we felt we should.

Since its inception, the Dyson Foundation has been a family-directed foundation. Anne Dyson took over as President from her father in 1978. After Anne’s death in 2000, Rob Dyson assumed the Presidency, and continues in that role. When it started in 1957, there were only about 4,000 foundations in the United States; today there are over 64,000. Headquartered in Millbrook, New York (Dutchess County), the Dyson Foundation has awarded over $164 million in grants since its founding to organizations large and small, national and local in both New York City and the Mid-Hudson Valley. The Dyson Foundation’s current grantmaking includes a significant grants program in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State that seeks to improve the quality of life in the region, create opportunities and support for economically disadvantaged individuals and families, and strengthen the nonprofit sector. The Dyson Foundation also supports a number of organizations and causes that are tied to Dyson family interests. Its assets currently stand at approximately $337 million. The Dyson Foundation awarded grants totaling $18,463,531 in 2006.

Later in 2007, the Dyson Foundation will be publishing a commemorative history of the Foundation on its website, along with a compilation of Fifty Years of Grantmaking.

Dyson Foundation 50th Anniversary Grants

Pace University
Grant Amount: $7.5 million
Pace University will receive $7.5 million, the largest of the Foundation’s 50th Anniversary grants, with $5 million going toward a $12 million upgrade of the science laboratories in Dyson Hall on the University’s campus in Pleasantville, NY, built in 1963 with funding provided by Charles H. Dyson. The remainder will provide scholarships and other student support. The grant is the third largest in Pace’s history and reflects a partnership between the Dyson family and Pace that began 75 years ago when Charles H. Dyson graduated from Pace in 1930. Pace’s core curriculum requires all students to take one science class with a laboratory component, and science is at the heart of popular new academic areas like forensic science and the physician assistant program. In the last five years, science majors at Pace have increased 36 percent, with a 50 percent increase in biology majors.

Contact: Chris Cory, Executive Director of Public Information

Weill Cornell Medical College
Grant Amount: $5 million
A $5 million dollar grant to the Department of Ophthalmology of the Weill Cornell Medical College will honor a relationship that began almost thirty years ago when Margaret M. Dyson was treated by Dr. D. Jackson Coleman for a detached retina. A lifelong friendship developed between the Dysons and Dr. Coleman (who was the longtime Chairman of Ophthalmology at Weill Cornell), and Margaret became especially interested in eye diseases and vision problems. This led to the establishment of the Margaret M. Dyson Vision Research Center at Weill Cornell in 1989. In recognition of that relationship with Dr. Coleman and Margaret’s interests, this grant will support the Ophthalmology area of the newly-built Ambulatory Care and Medical Education Building at York and 70th Street in New York City, which was dedicated on January 26, 2007. The Ophthalmology Floor will be named the Dyson Family Ophthalmology Floor.
Contact: Jonathan Weil, Director of Communications

Health Quest, Inc.
Grant Amount: $5 million
The Dyson Foundation’s $5 million grant to Health Quest will be used to support the continued implementation of critical healthcare information technology at all three of its member hospitals (Northern Dutchess Hospital/Rhinebeck, NY; Putnam Hospital Center/Carmel, NY, and Vassar Brothers Medical Center/Poughkeepsie, NY). Such technology – including medication bar-coding administration, electronic medical records, computerized documentation, and real-time wireless voice communication on clinical units – has become the standard hospitals across the nation are striving to reach in the interest of providing top-quality, cost-effective patient care. The grant from the Dyson Foundation supports this commitment and provides Health Quest with a significant portion of the funds needed to purchase and install this costly new technology.

Contact: Barbara Kram, Director for Marketing and Public Relations

Cornell University
Grant Amount: $5 million
The Dyson Scholars Program will benefit Cornell University's Department of Applied Economics and Management (AEM), the academic home of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' nationally ranked undergraduate business program (UBP). Dyson Scholars will be chosen based on academic performance, with award amounts determined by financial need. Once fully funded, the Dyson Scholars Program will offer awards to approximately the top 10 percent of students in each class year, with the greatest support going to freshmen, as well as funding special programmatic elements designed to foster leadership skills. Each year, more than 60 undergraduates will be named Dyson Scholars. The program will greatly strengthen AEM's ability to recruit students of the highest academic and leadership potential. Among the students who will derive the greatest benefit are those highly qualified students with the greatest financial need. The Dyson scholarships will enable such students to focus on their academic programs without the pressure of having to work to meet their financial needs, especially in the freshman year. It will also offer an added incentive to the program's most outstanding scholars to remain at Cornell by offering scholarship support to a very select number of UBP students who will enroll in the Johnson Graduate School of Management's MBA program.

Contact: Linda McCandless, Director of Communications
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Marietta College

Grant Amount: $5 million
A $5 million grant from the Dyson Foundation to Marietta College will help to construct a 53,400 sq. ft. new library, which will also include additional teaching spaces and provide for gathering and meeting places for students. It will be a campus centerpiece building and is projected to be completed by January 2009. Additional space in the new facility will allow for reference and library collections, archives and special collections, student study space, exhibition gallery, performance spaces, and a café. Robert R. Dyson, President of the Dyson Foundation, was a member of the Class of 1968 at Marietta College, and was delighted to honor his alma mater with this 50th Anniversary grant.

Contact: Tom Perry, Director of College Relations

Pierpont Morgan Library
Grant Amount: $500,000
The Pierpont Morgan Library recently opened its newly renovated and expanded facility in New York City. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the facility includes a new entrance, expanded gallery space, a new 280-seat performance space, larger reading rooms, and new space for storage of the collections. This 50th Anniversary grant has been awarded in memory of Franklin H. Kissner, who was a passionate supporter of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Franklin H. Kissner was Charles Dyson’s first and longest tenured business partner. They met in 1941 when they both worked for the Air Force in wartime Washington. He later joined Charles Dyson in the business that eventually became known as the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation in 1956. Frank Kissner was a noted art and rare books collector during his lifetime, and was a patron of many important cultural institutions in New York City and elsewhere. He died in 1988.

Contact: Patrick Milliman, Director of Communications & Marketing

For more information about this press release, contact:
Theresa Gill 845.790.6310
Diana Gurieva 845.790.6312 or 845.380.5438 (cell)