Neil and Louise Tillotson (Photo courtesy of Steve Barba).

Neil and Louise Tillotson (Photo courtesy of Steve Barba).

Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund

Championing the North Country

One of the largest permanent rural philanthropies in the U.S. is strengthening communities and spreading economic opportunity.

Neil Tillotson’s philosophy was simple: “Be humble, be creative and be kind.”


When he passed away in 2001 at 102, he left the bulk of his assets for charitable purposes. His wife Louise established the donor-advised Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation in 2006. The fund is one of the largest permanent rural philanthropies in the country. It is guided by a local advisory committee and distributes more than $3 million annually. Since 2006, more than $34 million has been awarded to organizations in Coös County and surrounding regions.

It was a bold strike. And it was an act of creativity and kindness for a region that needed both.

The Tillotsons had wide interests and global connections. In addition to the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, the Foundation manages the Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship, the Louise Tillotson Professional Development Scholarship, the Neil and Louise Tillotson Scholarship Fund, the Coaticook (Quebec) Region Fund, Hereford Forest Fund, Dixville Cemetery Fund and the Guatemala Fund.


PDF-icon      Read our 10th Anniversary Brochure

PDF-icon      Read our 2015 Report to the Community

PDF-icon      Read our 2015 Report to the Community (French)

What we're funding

The vision of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund is “To serve as a catalyst for the region to move toward sustainable community and economic development in Coös County and surrounding communities in the United States and Canada.”

We want — as Neil and Louise Tillotson wanted — the North Country and surrounding regions to flourish.

We’re funding systems-change-level projects while, at the same time, supporting basic community needs.

  • Education

    Since 2006, more than $11 million has been invested to ensure that all kids in the North Country get a good start, that educational programs are supported, and exceptional teachers are recognized for their work.

    • Investing $5 million in a comprehensive series of early childhood development initiatives designed to reach every child in Coös County and make the region a model for excellence.
    • Sending more than 2,000 children from Coös County schools to participate in the Appalachian Mountain Club programs, such as Mountain Classroom, an outdoor and science education program that connects kids with the natural world.
    • Awarding scholarships to post-secondary students from Coös County and surrounding communities in Vermont from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Scholarship Fund.
    • Recognizing exemplary North Country teachers with the Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowships and providing them with professional development and educational opportunities.
  • Economic development

    Since 2009, Tillotson funds have assisted in the creation of 16 North Country businesses, 115 new jobs and access to $7.6 million in capital.

  • Basic needs

    Nearly a half-million dollars have been invested since 2009 to meet basic nutritional needs of people in the region. Since 2006, another $700,000 has been invested in affordable housing, nearly $1 million in energy efficiency and fuel assistance, $3.5 million in access to health care, and $700,000 in access to legal services.

    • We are supporting programs that feed hungry families and children. And we are supporting broad efforts to address the causes of the increased need for food assistance, and to improve access to safe, affordable and healthy food.
    • We support organizations that expand affordable and safe housing, including Affordable Housing, Education and Development (AHEAD), Habitat for Humanity, and the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund.
    • A recent grant supported the startup of an onsite pharmacy at the Indian Stream Health Center; another supported the North Country Health Consortium’s Molar Express dental clinic.
    • We support services that ensure that residents have access to legal services regardless of income. A three-year, $200,000 operating grant in 2011 helped to keep the Berlin office of New Hampshire Legal Assistance open after deep budget cuts threatened its closure.
  • Leadership development

    About a thousand people have taken part in leadership development and networking programs created and supported by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund.

    • The Coös Symposium, a signature initiative of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, works to build relationships and trust across communities and disciplines, deepen understanding of forces shaping the region, identify potential opportunities for change and further connect communities to the region, and the region to the global community.
    • The Coös Networks is a virtual community connecting more than 400 members who live and work in and are passionate about the region. It is a meeting place for exchanging ideas, sharing information and deepening community relationships across disciplines and geography.
    • Our Grantee Learning Community provides learning and leadership development opportunities for grantees. Participants learn from one another and from invited speakers and experts about strategies for effectively addressing community needs and delivering services.
    • And our Community Practitioners Network, a multiyear leadership program for emerging and seasoned leaders, is helping participants build knowledge, strengthen skill sets, and cultivate a leadership network with shared goals and plans.


  • Research

    Since 2007, the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund has partnered with the University of New Hampshire to conduct longitudinal research to better understand the hopes, beliefs, and economic changes happening throughout the region.

    The Carsey School of Public Policy’s “Tracking Changes” research includes the following studies:

    • Coös Youth Study: a ten-year panel study of youth living in Coös County from 19 public schools. Coös County students created the Empower Coös Youth campaign to encourage the broader community to read the results of this research and consider innovative ways to engage and support youth in the region. Read more.
    • North County Community and Environmental Survey: surveys and case studies of adult attitudes and community change in Coös County, NH; Essex County, Vt.; and Oxford County, Maine.
    • Socioeconomic indicators for Coös County and surrounding counties in the United States and Canada.

The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund Advisory Committee


Bob Wells, Chair, Hopkinton, NH

Steve Barba, Concord, NH

Gladys Bruun, Waterville, Quebec

Tom Deans, South Conway, NH


Betsy Hess, Randolph, NH

Christine Frost, Warner, NH

Ben Gayman, Manchester, NH

April Lemay, Canaan, VT


Chris Masson, Canaan, VT

Jim Tibbetts, Colebrook, NH

Rick Tillotson, Colebrook, NH

Apply for a grant

Each year, The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund awards nearly $3 million in grants to support economic development, education and community safety net programs that focus on the people and communities of Coos County, New Hampshire and surrounding areas in Vermont and Canada.

Learn more

We're here to help

To learn more about the Tillotson Funds and our work in the North Country, contact:

  • Kirsten Scobie
  • Director of Tillotson Funds
Jean Clarke
  • Jean Clarke
  • Senior Tillotson Program Associate