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Walter Cerf Community Fund Announces $112,380 in Grants

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The Walter Cerf Community Fund (WCCF), a component fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, announces $112,380 in 2019 grants to 29 organizations to support work through summer 2020. Alongside many multi-year grants currently benefiting local organizations, these new grants will support a range of organizations and projects focused on social services, historic preservation, arts, education, and the needs of local residents experiencing poverty—reflecting the pattern of giving established by Walter Cerf during his lifetime.

The Cerf Fund’s giving since its establishment in 2001 is part of the lasting charitable legacy of a remarkable and generous man who cared deeply about the vitality of communities Addison County, northern Rutland County, and beyond. Walter Cerf was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1907. The son of a successful businessman, he spent most of his youth in Berlin. In 1937, he relocated to the United States 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 twenty-five year career as a Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College. He retired to his summer home in Leicester, Vermont in 1972.

With proceeds from interests in his father’s business, Walter made gifts exceeding $10 million to more than 100 different organizations in Vermont during the last twenty years of his life. At his death in 2001, the WCCF was established at the Vermont Community Foundation as a permanent endowment. The Fund makes grants annually in his name, carrying on the generosity of this remarkable man in perpetuity. The Vermont Community Foundation is proud to have the Walter Cerf Community Fund as a partner in its work to close the opportunity gap for Vermonters in Addison County and beyond.

2019 Grants

Addison Central Teens received $5,000 to support general operations of the Middlebury Teen Center.

Addison County Community Action Group, dba HOPE received $5,000 to support their food access programs in partnership with local elementary schools that enable groceries to be sent home with children during school vacations. 

Addison County Community Trust received $2,000 to support Support and Services at Home (SASH) which enables seniors to age safely in their own homes.

Addison County Humane Society, dba Homeward Bound received $2,000 to bring multiple programs supporting low-income pet owners under the umbrella of its Pet CORE (Community Outreach, Resources & Education) program.

Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce received $5,000 to support construction of the new Brandon Summer Concert Series Pavilion.

Brandon Area Toy Project received $2,500 to support Project Play!—the construction play place that will encourage exercise, community involvement and outdoor activity opportunities for children in Brandon and surrounding towns.

Bridport Grange received $5,000 to support exterior remodeling to the building.

Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra received $1,500 to support the position of Concertmaster.

Chandler Center for the Arts received $2,500 to support the Vermont Issues Play Contest & Readings program which encourages Vermont playwrights to develop current-issue-focused scripts.

Changing Perspectives received $2,500 to support Disability Awareness in Addison County Schools.

Columbus Smith Estate Trust, dba Shard Villa received $5,000 to support restoration of a historic balustrade.

Corner School Resource Center of Granville received $9,000 to help rehabilitate Granville’s iconic 1871 historic Corner School as an educational, entrepreneurship, cultural, and social community center.

End of Life Services, dba Hospice Volunteer Services received $5,000 to support general operations.

Fort Ticonderoga Association received $2,880 to bring a team of educators into 10 classrooms in Addison County to teach students about the life of a soldier on the frontier during the American Revolution through hands-on activities.

Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History received $2,500 to help upgrade their heating system.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum received $2,500 to make campus accessibility improvements, including ADA compliant ramp entrances, pathway improvements, and staff training on accessible interpretation techniques.

Leicester Central School received $5,000 to support safety upgrades to the playground structure, development of an outdoor “eco classroom,” and cultural experience field trips.

Opera Company of Middlebury received $5,000 to support local and regional performances of Tour of Tosca.

Preservation Trust of Vermont received $5,000 to support the Robert Sincerbeaux Seed Grant Funding program which supports community efforts to save and use historic buildings.

Safer Society Foundation received $2,500 to support its New Circle Mentoring Program which matches children of incarcerated parents with a long-term mentor who helps mitigate trauma through academic and emotional support.

Shelburne Museum received $2,500 to subsidize transportation and tickets to the museum’s educational programs and offerings for students from Addison County and beyond.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church received $6,000 to complete the repair and protection of its stained-glass windows as part of the St. Paul's Streetscape Project.

Town Hall Theater received $3,500 to support the Courageous Stage program in Addison Central School District and Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union.

The Town of Waltham received $5,000 to support the construction of a new ADA compliant bathroom in the Town Hall (circa 1870) as they currently do not have a modern bathroom facility with running water.

Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired received $1,500 to support iOS Technology Training Program that helps visually impaired adults in Vermont gain proficiency and independence with assistive devices, tablets, and smartphone technology.

Vermont Curators Group received $5,000 to support their “2020 Vision: Seeing the World Through Technology” statewide exhibitions that will raise awareness of Vermont as a cultural destination.

Vermont Families in Transition received $2,500 to support its subsidy fund for supervised parent visitations that allows noncustodial parents to spend quality time with their children in a nurturing and safe environment.

Vermont Historical Society received $4,000 to support engagement sessions for local historical societies to discuss challenges and work together to determine feasibility of opportunities for new and expanded services.

WomenSafe received $5,000 to support transitional housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.