Mission & Impact

We support and celebrate ideas and innovators

Our mission is to promote our country's spirit of private enterprise, by fostering access to the marketplace for every entrepreneur and their ideas.
We need people who have bold vision that shows where America needs to be going and how we can get from where we are to those places.
- Governor Pete du Pont

A Track Record of Success

Pete du Pont Freedom Award

The Pete du Pont Freedom Award is presented annually to an individual or group who has championed a successful idea, which has led to economic growth or brought innovation to the private sector. The award honors one of Delaware’s finest leaders, Governor Pete du Pont, who delivered Delaware from harsh fiscal times into an age of vibrant economic growth by working with the legislature, business leaders and educators.

Congratulations to Charlie Horn, who was honored with the Foundation’s 2019 Freedom Award for his entrepreneurial successes and his work to support entrepreneurs through the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship. Due to COVID-19 we will present our next Pete du Pont Freedom Award in 2021.

Other recent winners include Carol A. Ammon (2018), Mehmet Cengiz Öz (Dr. Oz, 2017), Mike Castle (2016), and Ellen Kullman (2015)

Learn more about the Pete du Pont Freedom Award and all previous winners.

Reinventing Delaware Competition

The Foundation’s Reinventing Delaware program invites citizens to submit bold ideas that they believe will create jobs and make Delaware better. 100 ideas are presented and rigorously evaluated and judged as part of the annual Reinventing Delaware Dinner. The winning ideas are then incubated for a period of six months and launched to improve Delaware.

The Foundation is excited to congratulate the winning Reinventing Delaware 2020 idea – NERDiT NOW and founder Markevis Gideon, a mobile device repair and workforce training company.

Learn more about the Reinventing Delaware Competition and previous winners.

Reinventing Delaware Success Stories

A 2018 Reinventing Delaware winner, is an “agripreneur” that focuses on “plants and people” as Delaware’s first vertical farm. With a focus on modern farming techniques (such as hydroponics and verticality) and sustainability as well as efforts to address the recidivism among those returning to the community.
Visit Second Chances Farm
A social impact real estate company - and 2019 Reinventing Delaware finalist - works to increase affordable housing in Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington, with a special emphasis on those struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, as well as homelessness among our veterans.
Visit Wilminvest
Another 2018 winner, focuses on Delaware’s next generation of business and community leaders by providing structured internship opportunities and events and other opportunities to learn from today’s leaders.
Visit Intern Delaware
A 2017 Reinventing Delaware winner, is “designed for teens by teens” and provides a space where Wilmington’s youth can learn and obtain skills needed for today’s world and the confidence that leads to success.
Visit Teen Warehouse
Another 2017 winner, combines a focus on mentoring at-risk teens and furthering healthy eating education and opportunities. It all results from the organizations “three core values” of at-risk teen employment, healthy food access, and nutritional information.
Visit Wilmington Green Box
Voted the top idea of the inaugural Reinventing Delaware Dinner in 2015, recognizes that “Software Powers Everything” in today’s world, and that this will be even more true in the future. They also recognized that the resultant demand for coders requires alternatives to a traditional four-year software degree. Boasting a 94% job placement rate, Zip Code Wilmington offers an outside-the-box intensive 90-day boot camp environment that provides students (whether existing “techies” or those looking for new careers) the skills and experience they need to enter today’s technology workforce.
Visit Zip Code Wilmington
The 2020 Reinventing Delaware Winner cultivates a technology ecosystem that trains, donates, repairs, and recycles IT to close the digital divide and inspire the next generation of technologists and community-driven entrepreneurs.
Visit NerdiT Now

A Continued Vision For the Future

Ongoing Programs

The Pete du Pont Freedom Award will remain one of the annual highlights of our efforts on behalf of Delaware as we continue to recognize those who exemplify at the highest level Governor du Pont’s legacy of innovation and service.

Our Reinventing Delaware Competition will continue its focus and recognition of entrepreneurship and innovation, with the goal of growing the number and quality of submissions, as well as enhancing our support for the leading ideas.

See the latest about the 2021 Freedom Award Event

New and Expanding Initiatives

If anything, the changes we face from COVID-19 highlight the continued importance of what we do and how we contribute to innovation and economic opportunity.

The Foundation’s Celebrating Delaware Heroes

The COVID-19 struggles have shown us that heroes indeed live among us and the Foundation initiated an effort in 2020 to recognize Delaware’s Heroes and celebrate them for their courage, dedication, compassion, and willingness to serve in the fight against COVID-19. At the September Freedom Award Event, we honored Dr. David Chen & Wanda Burgos-Rincon.

Dr. David Chen, for his work as one of the leaders of the COVID-19 task force at Christiana Care Health Systems. His plan of care and plan of action have helped reduce the admissions rate of those infected, along with maintaining a high recovery status.
Wanda Burgos-Rincon, Director of Youth Development at The Latin American Community Center,t for her work to establish a refined process and procedure for fulfilling an unprecedented amount of requests for monetary and food support for over 800 families during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis.

The E3 Initiative

Perhaps nothing signifies our vision and commitment to enhancing Delaware’s future and expanding opportunities for all than the Foundation’s newest initiative, the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, powered by Barclays. The E3 program launched in mid-2020 with the generous support of our anchor funder, Barclays US Consumer Bank. Working with Barclays and our program partner, the Wilmington Alliance, for our pilot program in the city of Wilmington, E3 is on track to be fully rolled out across the state during the rest of 2020 and early 2021. We have already started the work in Dover, and are in discussions to identify ou rSussex County implementation site. We are very excited about the synergy between E3 and Reinventing Delaware and focused on the E3 goal of developing coalitions to provide entrepreneurial resources to accelerate the launch of new for-profit businesses, with a focus on Black and Brown entrepreneurs.

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