Blue Devil of the Week: Securing Philanthropic Grants

In Duke’s Office of Foundation Relations, Beth Eastlick builds partnerships with national foundations for funding opportunities

Beth Eastlick pairs Duke faculty members with national foundations. Photo by Jonathan Black.
Beth Eastlick pairs Duke faculty members with national foundations. Photo by Jonathan Black.

Name: Beth Eastlick

Position: Assistant Vice President of Duke’s Office of Foundation Relations

Years at Duke: 29 

What she does at Duke: Eastlick and her team are the liaisons between national foundations and Duke University faculty and administrators. Foundations are nonprofits that give away 5 percent of their yearly assets through grants or charitable distributions.  

Building partnerships begin one of two ways. Someone within Duke will present an idea that needs funding, and Eastlick’s team will find a foundation to support the project. Or, more commonly, a foundation will issue a request for proposal, which describes a project’s needs and asks for proposed solutions. 

“Each foundation has its own set of rules,” Eastlick said. “One will throw your application out if you use the wrong sized font. We work with anyone applying to foundations to ensure all the requirements are checked off.”  

For many limited opportunities, Eastlick’s office convenes internal review committees of faculty members to select who from Duke will apply to the request for proposal. The Foundation Relations team will then work with the chosen applicant to ensure the project clearly outlines its goals and methods of achievement. 

Recently, Foundation Relations’ associate director Carol Vorhaus worked with Gennifer Weisenfeld, Dean of the Humanities; Ed Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinarity; Deborah Jenson, outgoing director of the Franklin Humanities Center (FHI), and Ranjana Khanna, incoming director of FHI, in securing a $3 million grant for the humanities. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the grant in May. 

“I love working with faculty,” Eastlick said. “They’re smart, funny and eclectic. I love just sitting down with faculty members and listening to them talk about their research. It’s like having a mini tutorial.” 

What she loves about Duke: She’s a Duke basketball fan, but her favorite thing about Duke is its engagement with Durham. 

She pointed out the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, which works with neighborhoods close to campus to provide affordable homeownership, educational achievement and quality health care.

“We’re not a university that builds fences around itself,” she said.

A memorable day at work: Eastlick fondly remembers Duke Forward achieving its goal of raising $3.5 billion in 2016, a year before the deadline. 

“It was just spectacular to see that money raised so quickly,” she said. “Everybody at Duke worked hard to make that happen.”

A special object/memorabilia in her workspace: Hanging on the walls in Eastlick’s office is a poster of the Payerne Priory Monastery in Switzerland from the time she lived in the country, a Duke Magazine article about her husband, Thomas Ferraro, Professor of English at Duke; and pictures of her two grown children.

“It feels like I have bits and pieces of my life all over my office,” she said. 

First-ever job: Eastlick worked telephone switchboards for Billings, Mont., city government when she was 16. 

“It was a great big console where calls came in and you had to send them to different extensions,” she said. “If someone needed a dog catcher, solid waste collection or the mayor, it came through our switchboard.” 

Best advice received: Eastlick’s worked for Craufurd Goodwin, a former dean of Duke’s Graduate School and James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Economics, when she started at Duke. Goodwin told Eastlick to always embody her work with integrity.

She passes that advice along to the faculty members she works with. 

“I often tell faculty not to change their project or principles for the sake of a grant,” Eastlick said. “Find a funder that wants to fund what you do.” 

Something most people don’t know about her: While living in Geneva, Switzerland, Eastlick took classes to obtain her master’s degree in economics. If that wasn’t hard enough, her classes were in French. 

“I have this vivid memory of sitting in class and the professor saying this word over and over again,” Eastlick said. “I didn’t know what he was talking about. I went home and looked it up in my dictionary. He was talking about mortgages. It was just brutal.” 

Is there a colleague at Duke who has an intriguing job or goes above and beyond to make a difference? Nominate that person for Blue Devil of the Week.