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The Curtis Fund receives $300,000 from Hoehl Family Foundation

3-year grant funds career training for hundreds in ‘promising career fields’

The Curtis Fund

The Hoehl Family Foundation has awarded $300,000 to The Curtis Fund’s new Credentials of Value scholarship program, helping hundreds of Vermonters complete career training for Vermont’s high-demand, high-return jobs.

The Curtis Fund, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation, joined with Vermont Student Assistance Corp. (VSAC) to pilot the program last year with 22 learners across eight counties.

The program focuses on certificates or credentials in a Promising Careers field, as identified by the McClure Foundation and the Vermont Department of Labor.

“We are grateful and thank the Hoehl Family Foundation for this game-changing grant,” said Joe Boutin, chairman of The Curtis Fund. “This three-year grant puts a stake in the ground that marks the beginning of a long-term commitment to give another promising path to success to Vermonters of all ages, life experiences, personal skills, and educational histories.”

The Curtis Fund has a goal to become the largest private source in Vermont of scholarships for credentials of value. VSAC has served as The Curtis Fund’s administrative and recruitment partner since 1995, helping to disburse about $30 million in scholarships.

Certificates of value are industry-recognized qualifications that increase candidates’ chances of getting a good job while at the same time providing employers with prospects who have the skills they need. The grants are also aligned with Vermont’s state-level goal of increasing the number of Vermonters with degrees or credentials from 50% today to 70% by 2025.

VSAC’s landmark nondegree program, which was the first in the nation in 1982, made nearly 1,500 grants last year worth over $2.6 million. Newly renamed the Advancement Grant, nondegree grants are need-based grants awarded to Vermont adult students who are trying to improve their employability by either gaining specific job skills through a training program or through higher education.

“Over the course of the next three years we expect to serve an additional 300-plus eligible learners who would have had no other access to private support for attaining this critical career training,” said Marilyn Cargill, vice president of financial aid services, marketing and research at VSAC. “This will be a great step toward consistently serving eligible Vermonters and at the same time significantly increase our state’s professional services and economic health.”

The grant continues the Hoehl Family Foundation’s legacy of helping Vermonters most in need, said Laura Latka, the foundation’s philanthropic advisor. “We are honored to share the extraordinary vision of Emma Eliza Curtis, whose bequest has helped Vermonters—for over a century—break the poverty cycle and receive the education and training they need to thrive economically, emotionally, and socially.”

The Hoehl Family Foundation’s contribution to the Curtis Fund Credentials of Value scholarship fund will match VSAC’s existing Advancement Grant funds, a proven program that receives state funding. The demand for these grants is so high that funds run out early every year. The Legislature, in recognition of this demand, appropriated a one-time $500,000 increase for Advancement Grants for fiscal year 2020.

Meet a few recipients of The Curtis Fund scholarship for credentials of value:

Eden Towers of Morrisville is currently completing her Paramedic Certificate program at Vermont Technical College. She completed the Advanced EMT certification and is working at Stowe Rescue.

Lauren Craig, who grew up in Peacham, took the 10-week LNA course, got her certification and now works at Mayo Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Northfield. She wants to continue her education and become a nurse. 

Rebecca Tanner of Lyndonville got her early childhood certification from Community College of Vermont and is now working full time as a certified toddler teacher at NEK Preschool and Childcare Center in Lyndonville. She plans to continue her education to earn an associate degree in early education.

Jeremy Baldauf is currently enrolled as a student at Northern Vermont University–Lyndon and he also works for Kingdom County Productions. A triplet, Jeremy and his family dealt with the loss of his father earlier this year. Since Jeremy helps to provide financial support for his mom, he wasn’t sure if he would have to drop out of college in the fall. Achieving the Pro Tools Certificate has helped him increase his earning power because it assures employers that he has the knowledge to properly operate sound boards. And his extra income has allowed him to return to NVU–Lyndon for the fall semester.

Reeta Chamlagai of Winooski came to the United States as a refugee, moved to Vermont in May 2014 and is a single parent with a 3-year-old daughter. Reeta completed the Computer Support Specialist program at CTE Essex. She is now looking for a job and continuing college course work.