Today, the Vermont Community Foundation announced that its charitable giving hit an all-time high in 2020. Powered by Vermonters who stepped up to help vulnerable neighbors during the pandemic, the Community Foundation, its fundholders, and charitable partners made $31.9 million in grants, more than 90 percent of which went directly into Vermont communities. This represents a 24 percent increase from 2019 and more than a 70 percent increase from 2018 grantmaking. Vermont Community Foundation grants in 2020 also represent nearly a quarter of all annual philanthropic grantmaking in the state in a typical year according to data from the Foundation Center.
“Last year was extraordinarily challenging for so many, but it also revealed the best of Vermonters and the power of what we can do together,” says Vermont Community Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. “From college and career training to food access, housing, equity and belonging, wellness, and youth programs—not to mention starting to address systemic challenges that make Vermont uniquely vulnerable to disruptions like the pandemic—the breadth of what was accomplished across Vermont communities cannot be overstated.”
The dramatic increase in grantmaking was driven by the VT COVID-19 Response Fund, through which more than $8.7 million has been granted since the start of the pandemic to support basic needs and fund five economic and social recovery initiatives. At the heart of the Community Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking is closing the opportunity gap in Vermont. As elsewhere, the conditions that hold Vermonters back by geography, by race, and by family background were accelerated by the pandemic and continue to impact recovery efforts and long-term community resilience. Highlights of the Community Foundation’s discretionary grantmaking from 2020 include:
· A $150,000 grant to the Vermont School Boards Association, the Vermont Principals’ Association, and the Vermont Superintendents Association to facilitate learning around equity, power, and privilege so they can support individual members to implement best practices on the ground. A $50,000 grant to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to support similar work with municipalities.
· Grants totaling $340,000 to Vermont Technical College ($145,000) and Community College of Vermont ($195,000) to make the seven Best Bet career training programs identified by the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation affordable for Vermonters in 2021. This set of grants also effectively demonstrated to state policymakers how funding from the American Rescue Plan could be used to support college and career training.
Grantmaking from the Community Foundation’s donor advised fundholders also increased, contributing more than $6 million to the VT COVID-19 Response Fund to support a coordinated pandemic response as well as giving directly to nonprofit organizations who are the backbone of Vermont’s communities. Highlights of donor advised fund grantmaking from 2020 include:
· A new donor advised fund dedicated to racial equity made close to $100,000 in grants to four nonprofits committed to supporting BIPOC communities—Migrant Justice, Association of Africans Living in Vermont, Vermont New American Advisory Council, and Abenaki Helping Abenaki (AHA).
· A $100,000 grant to Capstone Community Action to hire a full-time staff member to coordinate a rural transportation initiative that will provide low-income households access to electric vehicles using a ride share model.
To learn more about the Community Foundation’s grantmaking and how we support individuals with charitable giving, visit vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355.
The Vermont Community Foundation inspires giving and brings people and resources together to make a difference in Vermont. A family of hundreds of funds and foundations, we provide the advice, investment vehicles, and back-office expertise that make it easy for the people who care about Vermont to find and fund the causes they love.
The heart of the Community Foundation’s work is closing the opportunity gap—the divide that leaves too many Vermonters struggling to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. We are aligning our time, energy, and discretionary resources on efforts that provide access to early care and learning, pathways to college and career training, support for youth and families, and community and economic vitality. We envision Vermont at its best—where everyone has the opportunity to build a bright, secure future. Visit vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information. For information on our COVID-19 response, visit vtcovid19response.org.