Vermont Press Releases

Vermont Commons School receives diversity grant

News Release — Vermont Commons School
July 19, 2017

Mary Hamilton
[email protected]

Vermont Commons School Receives Coveted Edward E. Ford Foundation Grant to Support Refugee Students and Increase Diversity

South Burlington
Vermont Commons School is excited to announce that they are recipients of a $50,000 grant from the EDWARD E. FORD FOUNDATION (to be matched for a total of $100,000).  The grant will underwrite a program to create access for Refugee students to attend Vermont Commons School and then go on to college. “Many local Refugee students are recruited to colleges on athletic scholarships,” says Head of School DEXTER MAHAFFEY, Ph.D. “Often, however, they are not prepared for the rigors of college academics and end up dropping out.  College preparation is what we do here at Vermont Commons School.  We joke that our sport of choice, so to speak, is Varsity Academics.”

The grant will cover that part of tuition that all families on financial assistance are required to contribute for the four years of high school for three refugee students living in the Burlington area.  The grant funds also cover supplies for academics, athletics, transportation and access to Encounter Week trips, such as a visit to sister schools in Peru or China, service work in Belize or St. John U.S.V.I., or backcountry trips in the Maine wilderness.

“In keeping with our mission ‘Scholarship. Community. Global Responsibility.’ we are partnering with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, King St. Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington, the local organizations with their finger on the pulse of the Refugee community to identify students and families who are interested in rigorous progressive education,” continues Dr. Mahaffey. “In addition, part of this grant will go toward developing partnerships with local colleges and universities to create an avenue for these students to continue–and successfully complete–their post-secondary education.  Often, a Refugee family will have to wait a generation in seeking college, until their financial circumstances allow.  As 100% of Vermont Commons School graduates have gone on to college since our inception in 1997, it is our goal that with these partnerships and our college preparation, that missed opportunity won’t be necessary.”

The E. E. Ford Foundation has been providing grants to independent high schools for 60 years.  Their mission is “ to strengthen and support independent secondary schools and to challenge and inspire them to leverage their unique talents, expertise and resources to advance teaching and learning throughout this country by supporting and disseminating best practice, by supporting efforts to develop and implement models of sustainability, and by encouraging collaboration with other institutions.”

JOHN GULLA, Executive Director of the Foundation, states, “In an educational world seemingly hell-bent on homogenization, we represent, as a group of schools, the maxim that is truer than any other I have discovered in this work that we do: … in our approach to education, it can never be ‘one size fits all.’  In that light, the Foundation looks to support innovative schools that capitalize on their unique strengths to move high school level education forward on a national level.”

Vermont Commons School is presently looking for Refugee students interested in attending high school at Vermont Commons. Candidates should contact Jill Strawbridge, Director of Admissions, at 802-865-8084 or [email protected] for information on the application process.

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  • Jim Abbott

    How annoying. More money being funneled to private schools- pulling the best students from our public school systems. 100k to support only THREE students with tuition and a bunch of international trips. Peru! China Virgin Islands!! The rich are keeping the money in private schools. Betsy DeVos must be pleased.