McClure Foundation Awards Nearly $340,000 in Grants to Support Access to Higher Education in Vermont

The J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation, has announced $339,650 in grants to support programs promoting college and career education for Vermonters—with a particular focus on low-income students, first-generation college students, adult learners, and veterans. The McClure Foundation is guided by a vision of a vibrant, world-class economy in Vermont where no job goes unfilled for lack of a qualified applicant and in which each citizen is encouraged to learn and to contribute.

Nearly $120,000 in grants was awarded to programs never before funded by the foundation, including a new partnership between Navicate, the Vermont Agency of Education, and the Upper Valley Business & Education Partnership to build high-quality internship programs for high school students with local employers. 2014 was the first time in its 20-year history that the foundation opened its grant application process to the entire nonprofit and public school community.

“Our open call for grants this year allowed us to identify organizations that bring educators and businesses together to help boost work-based learning opportunities for Vermont students,” says McClure Foundation Vice President Barbara Benedict. “We’re excited for the possibilities these new programs represent and proud to support them alongside our longstanding partners.”

$220,000 was awarded to sustain programs and strategies the McClure Foundation has supported for years. One of these grants will help the Community College of Vermont continue to offer its Introduction to College Studies (ICS) course, which helps high school students across the state experience college when they are beginning to think about their future. ICS typically serves students for whom college is often not considered an option. CCV says that the opportunity to imagine going to college is why 71% of ICS grads enroll in college within 16 months after graduating from high school, an 18% increase over the direct enrollment rate for the state. The McClure Foundation has supported the ICS program since 2008.

The grants build on what has been a milestone year for access to postsecondary education at the state level. The 2013 Flexible Pathways bill, which promotes college readiness by acknowledging individual learning styles, is currently being implemented by the state, and the Legislature has tasked the PreK-16 Council with exploring ways to make public college more affordable for Vermonters.

“We’re thrilled to see the state taking up this issue in a meaningful way and hope that the government and philanthropic sector can continue working together to keep the quality and affordability of education a top priority in the years ahead,” says Benedict. “We trust that in this next year our call for proposals will bring sustainable, grassroots initiatives to our attention that will help us leverage our funds, the expertise of education professionals, and the natural energy and curiosity of students to realize their full potential.”

The letter of interest for the next round of McClure Foundation funding will be available in January 2015 at www.mcclurevt.org. To be notified of its release, follow @mcclurevtfdn on Twitter.

The McClure Foundation promotes college and career education for all Vermonters and has granted out more than $2.1 million to 21 organizations since 2008 in support of that goal. Through grants and convenings, the foundation continues the family tradition of project-oriented, collaborative philanthropy practiced by its founders, J. Warren and Lois McClure. To learn more about the foundation, which is a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation, visit www.mcclurevt.org.






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