New charitable fund honors McCardells

MIDDLEBURY — Two area nonprofits, a local art gallery and the former “first family” of Middlebury College are teaming up to establish a new charity that will help Addison County better react to future human services crises.
It’s called the “Addison County Funders’ Collaborative for Emerging Needs” and will be managed by the United Way of Addison County (UWAC) and the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), in recognition of the many philanthropic endeavors of John and Bonnie McCardell.
John McCardell is the former president of Middlebury College. The couple will be moving next month to Tennessee, where John McCardell will assume his duties as the 16th president and vice chancellor of Sewanee, the University of the South.
The McCardells have, during their more than 30 years in Addison County, made numerous charitable contributions to local nonprofit causes, both through financial donations and volunteer work. The couple served as co-chairpersons of UWAC’s successful 2005 fund drive.
Kate McGowan, UWAC co-chairwoman, said her organization recently reached out to the McCardells to determine an appropriate way to honor them as they leave to begin the next chapter of their lives.
In typical fashion, according to McGowan, the McCardells not only embraced the idea of a new charitable effort, they made a substantial, undisclosed donation of their own to seed the new fund.
“They have been very generous to this community,” said McGowan, one of several people — including Gov. James Douglas — who formally launched the fund and honored the McCardells on Monday evening at a special event at Middlebury’s Edgewater Gallery.
McGowan described the new “Funders’ Collaborative” as a pool of resources that can be quickly tapped to address emergency needs that might surface in the community — such as the recent fuel price surge and affordable housing crisis.
Working with the VCF and other partners in the community, UWAC will identify one priority need per year and invite proposals from local organizations to develop long-term solutions to that need. Plans call for elected projects to receive between $5,000 and $25,000.
McGowan was pleased to report on Monday contributions totaling $100,000 thus far to the Funders’ Collaborative. Organizers would like to see the fund grow to $150,000, and become replenished through donations as the resources are spent.
UWAC officials stress contributions to the Funders’ Collaborative will be sought separately from the United Way’s annual fund-raising campaign.
At the same time, the VCF will present the Funders’ Collaborative as another philanthropic option for the organization’s many fund holders.
Jen Peterson, the VCF’s vice president for community grant making, said she is pleased the new fund will present an opportunity for multiple organizations to work together for a common cause.
“We are really excited to have a more formal relationship with the United Way,” Peterson said, adding, “This is a wonderful way for (the McCardells) to leave their legacy behind as they go on to other adventures.”
Edgewater Gallery and artist Ellen Granter are pitching in by raffling off a piece of artwork titled “Jewelry #8.” Raffle tickets are being sold for $50 each, with proceeds to go to the Funders’ Collaborative. McGowan said an anonymous donor has pledged a $10,000 matching grant.
John McCardell said on Monday he and Bonnie were pleased to work the VCF and UWAC on the new fund. The couple set only two conditions — that the fund not bear their names, and that it not be an endowment.
“You can only spend 5 percent of an endowment, but you can spend 100 percent of a gift,” McCardell said. “We are excited with what we hope this can do for our community.”
People seeking more information about the Funders’ Collaborative should contact the UWAC at 388-7189, or the VCF at 388-3355. Raffle tickets may be purchased at Edgewater Gallery at One Mill Street or online at [email protected], or at the United Way office at 2 Court St., Middlebury.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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