Donald and Cheri De Jong, a husband and wife dairy farming duo, are paying their success forward by launching The De Jong Foundation. The De Jong Foundation's mission is to empower dairy farmers by investing in research, education and programs that inspire innovative practices and nourish the world through sustainable dairy farming.
In addition, the De Jongs serve as the executive leadership and founders for their family farming operations, including Natural Prairie Dairy Farms, Northside Farms and Jersey Gold Dairy. Over the past three decades, they have grown a once-small operation into one of America's top milk producers.
"This is about inspiring innovation," said Donald De Jong, co-founder of the De Jong Foundation. "We are passionate about empowerment, education and providing the tools to improve the lives of all dairy farmers."
"Our livelihood has been built upon making the most of our opportunities," commented Cheri De Jong. "When I reflect on the successful business we have built, our success has really been the result of taking opportunities head on, and turning them into growth. Now, we want to give back and provide those same types of opportunities to others."
The foundation recently awarded its first grant to Opportunity International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping break the cycle of poverty, by providing microloans, financial planning and training directly to small-scale farm entrepreneurs living in impoverished nations.
"With the support of the De Jong Foundation, we will be able to provide targeted financial products to rural smallholder farmers, especially dairy farmers, along with training and links to extension services and markets to ensure maximum results," shared Opportunity International global chief executive officer, Vicki Escarra. "There's no question this contribution will make a difference in the lives of the farmers we serve."
The De Jongs, who live in Dalhart, Texas, have been actively involved in charitable giving for many years, and recently, the National Interfraternity Council Foundation honored them as philanthropists of the year. In the next year, they look to extend the foundation's contributions to create and expand opportunity for dairy farmers within their home state of Texas, the U.S. and throughout the world.