With little doubt, we all desire to help Vermont students reach their full potential and we hope to develop the best possible workforce for our state. And, if we share ideas and support each other, I believe that we — educators, parents, businesspeople, elected and appointed officials, volunteers and philanthropists, alike — can make this a reality.
For over forty years my late husband and I had the good fortune to be able to team up to support, first as volunteers and later as lead donors, many visionary and worthwhile programs that continue to benefit our fellow Vermonters. Often, we structured our giving in the form of matching gifts in order to encourage community involvement and to spread the word about good work being accomplished. Then in 1995, Mac and I launched our foundation within the Vermont Community Foundation to help perpetuate our philanthropic commitment to improve health and education in our state and to preserve our amazing Vermont heritage.
In 2007 the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation began investing heavily in the future of our state by focusing our emphasis on postsecondary education and aligning this with employment opportunities for Vermont students. We are working closely with the Community Foundation to help answer this question: “Why does Vermont have one of the highest rates of high school graduation in the country, but one of the lowest rates of graduates going directly on to college?” As you can imagine, the answer is not simple. Our research shows that the high cost of college is not the only challenge Vermonters face. In many cases students cannot visualize being the first in their families to attend college. Other students, though high school graduates, don’t feel they are actually prepared for college-level academics. Many cannot seem to make the connection between college studies and subsequent jobs and careers.
To address some of these issues, over the past five years we have built on the “best practices” discovered in the course of our research. We’ve also developed a “Most Promising Pathways” initiative, which was introduced to assist our Vermont heroes returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure they are afforded opportunities to grow and prosper now that they are back home. In addition, we’ve worked to bring together folks in education, government, business and philanthropy at a fall forum in order to work together toward better alignment of Vermont’s Pre-Kindergarten through Post-High School educational offerings, so that more Vermonters can reach their full potential and so that the skill level of our workforce can attract exciting new businesses to the state. If you have an interest in joining us, please contact the Vermont Community Foundation’s Peter Espenshade, whose phone number is at the bottom of this web page.
Now we are sharing our work in a more public way through these new web pages, in the hope that more people will understand the challenges and the potential for success in the areas of education and workforce development. It is a pleasure and an honor to welcome you to the resources we have gathered on this website!