This year marked our first-ever competitive grant round. We're thrilled to share that the new process boosted the transparency of our grantmaking and allowed us to learn more about the bright spots in workforce development in Vermont. As part of the new process, McClure Foundation staff and directors reviewed the foundation’s first unsolicited grant proposals: 32 of them, in fact. We read them with an eye to collaborative potential and meaningful student outcomes. And this summer, nearly $340,000 in grants was awarded to organizations that lead pioneering work to help all Vermonters access career and college education.
Some of the supported programs are mainstays of the McClure Foundation’s grants portfolio and we’re thrilled to see the effects of sustained support. Take the Enhanced Veteran Services Initiative at the Community College of Vermont as an example: enrollment of military-connected students there has increased by 250% since McClure Foundation funding launched the initiative, as compared to the three years prior to funding. The program's success is also thanks to two other funders who offered significant support, too. That means more veterans are accessing—and completing—college degrees. Or the Babysitter Training Course offered by the American Red Cross: after this year of funding, over 1,000 Vermont youngsters will have received the training free of charge. 95% of them report having learned something new about leadership and about responsibility.
Some funded programs were new to us. Navicate will partner with the Agency of Education and the Upper Valley Business & Education Partnership to build meaningful internship programs for high school students via trainings with schools and employers. The Windham Southeast Supervisory Union will be sharing lessons learned from their successful social competency development curriculum, through which they offer 41 dual credit courses at 11 area colleges and through which high school students mentor younger students about leadership. These organizations are data-driven in their approach and passionate about the success of their students. We’re honored to be a part of their story.
Lastly, a short note on implementing the Flexible Pathways Bill passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2013: the upcoming school year will bring some urgency, as educators are mandated to implement personalized learning plans (PLPs) on a rolling basis beginning by September 2015. The PLPs will help students identify goals and learning styles and create a pathway toward graduation. We’ll do what we can to help ensure a successful rollout of that process, including hosting a learning seminar for education funders this fall.