Mission and Giving Philosophy

VTC medical training

What do 1,500 electricians, nearly 4,000 nurses, and over 700 web developers have in common? These are the kinds and numbers of promising jobs expected to open in Vermont in the next ten years. However, these and other promising Vermont jobs largely require education and/or training after high school—yet as few as 37% of Vermont’s low-income high school students pursue such education after graduation.

With that gap in mind, we envision a Vermont where all people have abundant opportunities for career education and advancement and where no promising position goes unfilled for lack of a qualified applicant. We believe that as philanthropists, educators, and legislators communicate and collaborate to improve and promote educational opportunities within the state, Vermont’s most important resource—its people—become more fully empowered.

Lois & J. Warren “Mac” McClure

How did we come to focus on equitable access to postsecondary and career training? To tell that story, it’s best to start at the beginning. We were established in 1995 as the first supporting organization at the Vermont Community Foundation to continue the family tradition of collaborative, entrepreneurial philanthropy practiced by our founders, J. Warren “Mac” & Lois McClure. The McClure family’s giving philosophy has been clarified through over five decades of family philanthropy. In addition to giving “with warm hands,” the family has long held an interest in engineering grants to incent unlikely partnerships that create lasting change. They look at risk and see potential and are relentless in their quest to find and fund on-the-ground champions. And they know they can magnify the impact of their grant dollars with convenings, inspiration, and trust-building. The first thirteen years of the McClure Foundation was spent building the fund balance and supporting broad charitable issues. One of the Foundation’s early grants was a $1M catalyzing gift to the Howard Center to allow for the construction of the building and gymnasium that now houses the Baird School Campus and Howard Center’s Children, Youth, and Family Services.

In 2008, after considering many issues and opportunities critical to Vermont communities, we focused our philanthropic lens on promoting access to postsecondary and career education. In partnership with the Community Foundation, we published a report on the roles for philanthropy to effect the issue and created the Access to Higher Education Fund, which remains a vehicle through which philanthropists and funders can pool resources and support strategic initiatives and programs across the state.

Since 2008, we have awarded over $4M to programs that build equitable access to affordable and high-quality career and college education that will prepare Vermonters for secure and successful employment. Funding strategies that guide our investment include: investing in students facing the biggest obstacles, raising college aspiration rates, changing the narrative around jobs, and partnering with others.