The Walter Cerf Community Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation Announces $93,500 in Grants to Support Arts, Education, Historic Preservation, and Social Services

The Walter Cerf Community Fund, a component fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, recently awarded $93,500 in grants to 26 organizations in its 2023 competitive grants round. These awards build on $62,000 distributed in second-year payments to the fund’s multi-year cohort, bringing the total payments for 2023 to $155,500.

The fund is pleased to support two applicants with large, single year grant awards: the Columbus Smith Estate Trust has been awarded $12,000 to support improvements to its Shard Villa residential care home, and Vermont Elks Charities has been awarded $12,000 to support equipment upgrades at Silver Towers Camp. Additional grants include a combination of awards to organizations supporting youth and families, education, historic preservation, arts, and community enrichment in Addison County and statewide.

The Walter Cerf Community Fund makes grants to address charitable needs in Vermont, with the majority of funds given to organizations serving Addison County and Brandon. Priority areas of the fund include the arts, education, historic preservation, and social services, reflecting the pattern of giving established by Mr. Cerf over many years.

Born in Leipzig, Germany in 1907, Walter Cerf spent most of his youth in Berlin. He relocated to the United States in 1937 as a refugee of Nazi Germany. After becoming a U.S. citizen, he served in military intelligence and developed a deep appreciation for the preservation of art, culture, and local history. In 1947, he began a 25-year career as a professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College, eventually retiring to his summer home in Leicester, Vermont in 1972.

During the last 20 years of his life, Cerf made gifts exceeding $10 million to more than 100 different organizations in Vermont. At his death in 2001, a permanent endowment, the Walter Cerf Community Fund, was established at the Vermont Community Foundation. The fund makes grants annually in Cerf’s name and will continue the generosity of this remarkable man who cared deeply about the vitality of communities in Addison County, northern Rutland County, and beyond. Visit to learn more.

2023 Grant Recipients

  • Bixby Memorial Free Library, $2,500
  • Brandon Free Public Library, $2,500
  • Bristol Recreation Department, $2,000
  • Columbus Smith Estate Trust, $12,000
  • Community Health Services of Addison County/Open Door Clinic, $5,000
  • Ethan and Mary Baker Allen DAR Chapter, $2,500
  • Governor’s Institutes of Vermont, $2,500
  • Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, $4,000
  • Lincoln Historic Society, $2,500
  • Lund Family Center, $2,500
  • Mary Johnson Children’s Center, $2,500
  • Middlebury Actors Workshop, $2,000
  • Otter Creek Academy at Leicester School, $2,500
  • Red Clover Children’s Center, $2,500
  • Rutland Area Art Association/Chaffee Art Center, $2,500
  • Shelburne Museum, $2,500
  • Town of New Haven, $2,500
  • Town of Starksboro, $2,500
  • Tri-Valley Transit, $5,000
  • Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, $2,500
  • Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, $2,000
  • Vermont Department for Historic Preservation, $5,000
  • Vermont Elks Charities, $12,000
  • Vermont Humanities Council, $5,000
  • Vermont Marble Museum, $2,500
  • Vermont Symphony Orchestra, $2,000

Multi-year Grant Recipients

  • Addison Central Teens
  • Addison County Community Action Group (HOPE)
  • Addison County Community Trust
  • Addison County Home Health and Hospice
  • Addison County Readers
  • Brandon Free Public Library
  • Elderly Services
  • Fort Ticonderoga
  • John W. Graham Emergency Shelter
  • Middlebury Studio School
  • Opera Company of Middlebury
  • Otter Creek Child Center
  • Preservation Trust of Vermont
  • Vermont Historical Society

For more details on multi-year grant recipients go to

The Vermont Community Foundation was established in 1986 as an enduring source of philanthropic support for Vermont communities. A family of more than 900 funds, foundations, and supporting organizations, the Foundation makes it easy for the people who care about Vermont to find and fund the causes they love. The Community Foundation and its partners put more than $60 million annually to work in Vermont communities and beyond. The heart of its work is closing the opportunity gap—the divide that leaves too many Vermonters struggling to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. The Community Foundation envisions Vermont at its best—where everyone can build a bright, secure future. Visit or call 802-388-3355 for more information.