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Vermont Community Foundation and Buffum Family Foundation Announce Endowments to Support Four Vermont Nonprofit Organizations

Buffum Spectrum DetailWorks

image courtesy of Spectrum Youth & Family Services

The Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation announced today that it has given a total of $3.5 million to the Vermont Community Foundation to create endowments to benefit four nonprofit organizations. The endowments will support Spectrum Youth & Family Services in Burlington, the King Street Center in Burlington, Dismas of Vermont, and the Flynn Theatre in Burlington.

The endowments will serve as a source of long-term financial support for the nonprofit organizations and further the Buffum Foundation’s mission to support women, children, families, people with disabilities, and also increase access to the arts.

“We are supporting these organizations knowing that they will make a difference in the lives of many in the Chittenden County region, while also honoring the legacy of Vicki and Courtney Buffum. These endowments are made possible because of our relationship with the Vermont Community Foundation, where there are resources for investment, administration, and follow-up in the future,” said Tom Gauntlett, president of the board of the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Foundation.

It is a pleasure to work with the Buffum Foundation board of directors as it continues to focus on supporting access to the arts and bettering the lives of women, persons with disabilities, kids, and families, said Ruth Henry, senior philanthropic advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation. “These new endowed funds will help ensure that the important work of the nonprofits being recognized can continue to have a lasting impact throughout our community.”

The late Victoria Buffum was a Chittenden County entrepreneur and philanthropist. She created the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation in 1997 to help women and children at risk, single mothers, persons with brain injuries, children with disabilities, and also to the support the arts. Victoria died in 2002. She was a loving mother to her daughter Courtney Buffum, who attended Shelburne schools and Champlain Valley High School. Courtney, who experienced a serious brain injury in a 1989 car accident, was beloved by her family, friends, and caregivers. She died in 2021. 

In 2022 the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation decided to increase the size of its gifts and to partner with the Vermont Community Foundation, where it could establish endowed grants that would be larger and more impactful, said Gauntlett, brother of Victoria Buffum and uncle of Courtney Buffum.

The new endowments reflect that goal.

The endowment for Spectrum will be named the Mark Redmond Fund. This recognizes Redmond, executive director of the nonprofit, for his work to help homeless and at-risk youth for more than two decades. The endowment will specifically support Spectrum’s drop-in centers, located in Burlington and St. Albans, and their mission to empower teenagers, young adults, and their families to make and sustain positive changes in their lives. The drop-in centers are an “open door through which so many of our youth come to Spectrum for the first time for basic needs such as a hot lunch, dinner, a change of clothing, a shower, or to do laundry,” Redmond said. “From there they can, if they wish, take part in the other services we offer–such as living in one of our residences, getting help finding employment, assistance with returning to school, or perhaps even working at our social enterprise, Detail Works.” He added: “And as far as having this endowment named the Mark Redmond Fund, all I can say is that it is truly humbling, and I am eternally grateful.”

The Flynn endowment will be named the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Access to the Arts Fund. It will provide families, children at risk, and people with disabilities access to the arts in Chittenden County and Northwest Vermont. “We are truly honored to have received such a generous gift from the Courtney and Victoria Buffum Family Foundation,” said Jay Wahl, executive director of the Flynn. “We extend our deepest thanks to those who helped make this contribution possible. Providing everyone access to the arts is the mission that animates everything our organization does at the theater and in the community. With this gift, Flynn programs such as our Student Matinee Series, Playing Fields, and Movement for Parkinson’s can be expanded to reach and impact even more children and people with disabilities so everyone can benefit from the joys of the arts in their lives.”

The endowment for the King Street Center will specifically benefit its Academic & Career Exploration (ACE) Program. “Every child deserves an equitable opportunity to explore academic and career aspirations, allowing them to envision a brighter future,” said Shabnam Nolan, executive director of King Street. “The Buffum Foundation’s support for King Street Center’s new Academic & Career Exploration (ACE) Program will open the door for youth to discover their passion, while also providing them financial stability to be able to embrace those opportunities. We are incredibly grateful for the Foundation’s investment in this shared vision.” 

The Dismas of Vermont endowment will support the nonprofit’s Women’s House in Rutland. “This program was established to fill a need in Vermont and remains the only program of this type to support women moving out of incarceration,” said Jim Curran, executive director of Dismas. “This generous gift ensures the sustainability of the house and program and means that women moving from incarceration will continue to have a safe and accepting space to begin the reconciliation process with the community and themselves. We are so fortunate to have the support of the Buffum Family Foundation.”