Established in December 2015, the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation’s mission is to support apostolic ministries of the Catholic Church and support initiatives serving the most vulnerable among us. It has grown from a few funds in 2016 to more than 75 funds supporting financial assistance to Catholic school students, parish operations, cemetery maintenance, emergency aid, residential care and ministries that promote life, faith formation and evangelization.

One primary purpose of the foundation always was to provide Catholics with a mechanism to support the causes they cared about the most or create a legacy fund in memory of a loved one or in their own name to support a parish or ministry in perpetuity. However, the minimum threshold to establish of fund, $10,000, was a barrier for many individuals until one parishioner recently helped change all that.

The Multi-Year Agreement was established this year based on a request from a parishioner, Gary Chicoine, who wanted to create a fund in memory of his parents to support the cemetery where they rest by making an annual $2,000 qualified charitable distribution to the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation from his IRA.  While this amount did not meet the minimum threshold of $10,000 to establish a fund, we were able to create a new avenue for him to make contributions over five years to reach the threshold – the multi-year agreement.

“A few years ago, when I began taking required distributions from my traditional IRA, I came to realize that the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation was a perfect vehicle to make tax-effective donations to the Church while also honoring my deceased parents, Bob and Lois Chicoine, longtime parishioners of St. Stephen’s in Winooski,” he said.

This benefits him as well as the foundation because he is able to make a QCD tax-free donation directly from his IRA to Vermont Catholic Community Foundation and not have to count the annual withdrawal as taxable income. The new fund will also benefit the parish cemetery where his parents rest with annual operating income for maintenance.

As the foundation matures, we are always looking for new and better ways to serve the community. Recently, the foundation was asked by Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington and the Diocese of Burlington to manage their capital campaigns. It is not uncommon for a foundation to provide this type of service, and we were willing and able to step up.

When Bishop Christopher Coyne became bishop of Burlington, he was surprised there was not a Catholic community foundation to support our faith-based initiatives and provide these types of services to the Catholic community. As we grow, we are excited to expand our services and become a real benefit to the maintenance and growth of our mission to spread the Good News and care for the those in need.

The Vermont Catholic Community Foundation is a separate nonprofit from the Diocese of Burlington with a mission to support the apostolic ministries of the Church and support the most vulnerable among us. VCCF provides philanthropic individuals with a mechanism to establish and grow resources for the Catholic ministries that matter most to them. To learn more about how to establish or contribute to an existing fund, contact Ellen Kane, or visit:

—Ellen Kane is executive director of the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation and

Office of Development and Communication for the Diocese of Burlington.

—Originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.