Montpelier, VT ~ The Vermont Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofitfocused on lifelong learning and literacy, in December received a $200,000Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grantrepresents a significant step toward the success of VHC’s first capitalcampaign, Humanities at the Center, which aims to raise $700,000 to coverthe purchase and renovation of new offices in Montpelier. VHC moved to themore central offices in October after 30 years in Hyde Park and Morrisvillein rented space.”This is a high honor,” wrote NEH Chairman Bruce Cole in the award letter toVHC. “Yours is one of only two state humanities councils to receive such anaward in this application cycle. . . . [The NEH] evaluators were especiallyimpressed with the careful planning for your move to a new facility inMontpelier. This more central location will undoubtedly enhance your abilityto collaborate with other organizations in Vermont to bring excellentprogramming to the citizens of the state.”The $200,000 challenge grant provides $1 for every $3 raised by VHC fromnonfederal sources. All campaign gifts received after December 1, 2004 areeligible for matching funds.A campaign committee of board members and community leaders has raised morethan $360,000 toward the Humanities at the Center Campaign goal, of whichVHC’s board has contributed $100,000. The NEH grant and other campaign giftswill allow VHC to own a centrally located office and to reduce operatingcosts.In addition to the NEH grant, VHC has received a $50,000 challenge grantfrom Jan and David Blittersdorf, of NRG Systems, a sustainable energycompany. The Blittersdorf Challenge Grant for Energy Efficiency will fundenergy-efficient renovations in VHC’s new building; it requires donors tomatch the $50,000 pledge. VHC has so far raised $11,500 toward this goal.Gifts in support of the Blittersdorf Challenge will also be matched by theNEH.”It is exciting to see a beautiful historic building get tightened up andsaved from becoming too expensive to maintain in the future,” notes JanBlittersdorf, CEO of NRG Systems.VHC identified the need to move to a more central location several yearsago. The NEH had recommended that VHC move its office to Montpelier. The newlocation, a nineteenth-century Victorian building on Loomis Street, makesVHC more convenient to board members, donors, legislators, volunteers, andprogram participants.Moreover with Montpelier home to many VHC partners and state agencies, theCouncil’s liaison with these organizations will be enhanced. Increasedvisibility in Montpelier will raise public awareness and understanding ofVHC programs and the humanities. And access to the interstate means that therest of the state can more easily get to VHC and vice versa.Since moving to the new location over Columbus Day Weekend, VHC has heldliteracy trainings, board meetings, and other gatherings that previouslywould have taken place in rented space.”Even though the Vermont Humanities Council is over thirty years old, wehave never owned a building,” said Brenda Bisbee, chair of VHC’s CapitalCampaign Committee. “With the purchase and renovation of this building, wehave a handsome and functional home. Our presence in the state capital willmake such a difference for all of us-board, staff, donors, and the statewidehumanities community.”Built as a residence prior to 1873, the building has been used as an officesince the early 1970s. Over the summer, Montpelier architect Tom Leytham andgeneral contractor Don Morin, of Richmond, led a restoration of thebuilding, which included improvements to floors and lighting, repainting thefaçade, and the installation of energy-efficient heating and air systems.With the new offices renovated and VHC establishing itself in the statecapital, VHC is now positioned to enhance its work in Vermont. The NEH andBlittersdorf grants provide the resources to make that task easier. “We aredelighted to be a funding partner for this exciting new endeavor,” wroteCole, “and I hope others will join with us in supporting the enrichment ofthe humanities.”Donors can make gifts in several ways paid over time. All gifts are eligiblefor a match. To make a gift, contact Jane Carroll, Director of Development,at 802.262.2626 or firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail).A statewide nonprofit organization, the Vermont Humanities Council iscommitted to creating a state in which every individual reads, participatesin public affairs, and continues to learn throughout life. VHC’s broad rangeof programs serves Vermonters of all ages and backgrounds. VHC sponsorsannually over 1,500 programs in more than 160 towns. For more information,call 802.262.2626 or visit www.vermonthumanities.org(link is external).