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What do four hundred electricians, more than two thousand nurses, and nearly five hundred software developers have in common? These are the kinds and numbers of promising jobs expected to open in Vermont in the next ten years. However, these and other promising Vermont jobs largely require education and/or training after high school. As few as 37% of Vermont’s low-income high school students pursue such education after graduation. With that gap in mind, we envision a Vermont where all people have abundant opportunities for career education and advancement and where no promising position goes unfilled for lack of a qualified applicant. We believe that as philanthropists, educators, and legislators communicate and collaborate to improve and promote educational opportunities within the state, Vermont’s most important resource — its people — become more fully empowered.


For the 2018-19 school year, the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation will focus its funding on efforts that improve equitable access to the postsecondary and career education that leads to Vermont’s most promising jobs.

A core value of the McClure Foundation is working cooperatively with those who are focused on similar objectives. To that end, this funding focus is intentionally aligned with both the Vermont Community Foundation’s commitment to closing the Opportunity Gap and to the 70x2025vt Initiative’s commitment to increasing the percentage of working-age Vermonters with a postsecondary degree or credential of value. We hope that the grants awarded through this process will contribute to the progress of both efforts.

The McClure Foundation prefers proposals that encourage cooperation, collaboration, and community building. We highly value the input of partners including the Vermont Community Foundation, the 70x2025vt Initiative, the Vermont State Colleges, VSAC, and relevant state agencies.

The Foundation’s primary interest is in funding projects with statewide impact or that are closely aligned with statewide multi-sector postsecondary attainment or workforce development efforts (ex: the 70x2025vt Initiative). Occasionally, the Foundation will support up to three years of a single/multi-county pilot project that is intentionally designed to generate lessons or models that would benefit other regions. The Foundation favors projects which incorporate input and funding from a variety of public and private sources to impact achievement for underserved areas or populations.

Grants of $5,000 or less may be provided to support convenings of students and/or educators that promote understanding of promising Vermont career paths, or for outreach efforts of a similar nature. Larger grants are reserved for supporting exceptional programs or new models/collaborations that will bring to scale efforts to develop Vermont’s workforce to enhance long-term prospects for the state and its residents.

What are Vermont’s most promising jobs?

In partnership with the Vermont Department of Labor and the Vermont Higher Education Council, the McClure Foundation has identified 54 of Vermont’s most promising jobs and the education/training pathways that lead to them. Many of the identified jobs are represented by the following four industry sectors: construction, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and business-to-business services.

Funding priority will be given to projects that accomplish one or more of the following:

Identify and/or eliminate barriers to postsecondary access and success for low-income and first-generation youth and adults. For example, this may include:

  • Improving postsecondary affordability for the target population (i.e. via improved FAFSA completion or increased participation rate in dual enrollment and/or early college opportunities)
  • Expanding postsecondary and career aspirations of the target population (i.e. via equitable access to high-quality work-based learning (WBL) or career and technical education (CTE) programs that articulate pathways to further education and training)
  • Identifying and creating pathways for adults with some/no postsecondary education or training.

Strengthen the pathways between education and employment. For example, this may include:

  • Improving the career advising and career awareness available to low-income and first-generation secondary school students and to adult jobseekers.
  • Supporting employer partnership in efforts to align the training, certification, and degree programs at Career & Technical Education Centers, Vermont State College institutions, and elsewhere with Vermont’s workforce needs.

Change the narrative to ensure public recognition of postsecondary education and college and career readiness as a shared value. For example, this may include:

Funding priority will be given to organizations/entities that:

  • Are public institutions or that strengthen our state’s public institutions, including schools, colleges, and libraries;
  • Have a statewide reach or the potential for a statewide reach;
  • Have a history of data-driven, collaborative programming;
  • Work together to increase reach, to promote equity, and to share best practices; and
  • Have sustainable sources for general operating funds and need specific, short-term assistance to ramp up distinct programs of interest to the Foundation.


Grant applications will be accepted from organizations that are located in or serve the people of Vermont. Organizations must be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or be a public agency, school, or municipality in the state of Vermont. Nonprofit organizations or community groups who do not have 501(c)(3) status may apply for grant awards if another eligible organization acts as a fiscal sponsor.

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, marital or parental status, political affiliation, military service, physical or mental ability be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available (meaning any funds having a competitive application process) by the Vermont Community Foundation, and any other program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds appropriated for grants, cooperative agreements, and other assistance administered by the Foundation.

Grant applicants must employ staff and provide services without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, marital or parental status, political affiliation, military service, physical or mental ability.


Our current round of funding supports projects that run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. The first step to be considered for funding is to electronically submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) on the Vermont Community Foundaton's Online Grants Manager. Visit the Online Grants Center to learn how to use the Grants Manager, including accessing your existing account or registering for the first time. Preview a PDF of the Letter of Interest questions.

The 2018 deadline for submitting a Letter of Interest is 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 6. A handful of LOI applicants will be invited to submit a full application, which will be due at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 5. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in early May.

Before submitting a Letter of Interest, we encourage you to reach out to Carolyn Weir to discuss how your project lines up with Foundation priorities (see below). 


Carolyn Weir, senior philanthropic advisor for the McClure Foundation, is available to answer questions about the grant process and/or to discuss how your project lines up with Foundation priorities. You can reach Carolyn at or 802-388-3355 ext. 239.