A Philosophy of Giving
From remarks made by Barbara M. Benedict, McClure Foundation Vice President, at the Vermont Community Foundation’s Fall 2010 Educational Forum.
We all envision a Vermont where opportunities for life-long learning are abundant and where no position goes unfilled for lack of a qualified applicant. As philanthropists, educators, and legislators communicate and collaborate to improve and promote educational opportunities within the state, Vermont’s most important resource — its people — will become more fully empowered.
The McClure Foundation, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation, was established in 1995 to continue the tradition of project-oriented, collaborative philanthropy practiced by J. Warren and Lois McClure. We’ve often been asked how we decide upon which projects to support.
- We look for collaborations between private and public sectors for creative, effective programs in need of some short-term assistance to expand or evolve to reach the “next level” — or, in some cases, to survive.
- We gravitate toward proposals developed and promoted by a “champion” — someone at the ground level with the drive and experience to see a project succeed.
- We value transparency in organizations.
- We favor projects that have foreseeable sustainability.
- We evaluate the numbers of students impacted by a project and look for opportunities to nudge those students “on the fringes” toward success.
In 2008 the Foundation partnered with the Vermont Community Foundation to research the access that Vermonters have to in-state postsecondary education in order to identify barriers students face and to determine any gaps in occupational training for the jobs projected by the state Department of Labor to grow at the fastest rate over the next decade. This report was published and distributed in the spring of 2009 to highlight financial, preparation, and aspirational challenges for Vermont students. This research has provided direction for our annual school-year grants to on-the-ground programs and to initiatives keyed to promoting long-term and systemic improvements in the access that Vermonters have to postsecondary education.