Tillotson Fund awards more than $610,000 for North Country communities

Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund grants support substance use prevention, economic development, education, conservation and more

CONCORD, NH (PRESS RELEASE) – The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation recently awarded nine grants totaling $612,917. The Tillotson Fund is one of the largest permanent rural philanthropies in the country, distributing nearly $3 million in grants annually to municipal, educational and nonprofit organizations throughout northern New Hampshire and bordering communities in Vermont and southern Quebec.

The Tillotson Fund was established at the Charitable Foundation in 2006 with a bold vision: to serve as a catalyst for the region to move toward sustainable community and economic development in Coos County and surrounding communities. In pursuit of that vision, the Tillotson Fund has identified three priority areas for grantmaking: education, economic development and basic needs.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation awarded a total of $150,000 in grants to the North Country Health Consortium for its innovative substance use prevention program. The Tillotson Fund and the Foundation’s Substance Use Disorders Portfolio each granted $75,000 for the Consortium’s Youth Leadership Through Adventure program. The program strives to teach kids to be leaders, to deepen their connection to community – and, in doing so, to keep them off drugs and alcohol.

The Youth Leadership Through Adventure program has kids climbing mountains and paddling rivers; doing service learning projects in their communities; organizing conferences for younger students and encouraging healthy behavior among their peers. The program is in all 10 public high schools and 12 middle schools in Coos and northern Grafton counties.

“New Hampshire has some of highest youth alcohol and drug use statistics in the country,” said Timothy Rourke, director of substance use disorders grantmaking at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Substance Use Prevention, Treatment and Recovery. “We know that effective prevention includes engaging youth as peer leaders to affect change.”

On the latest New Hampshire Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a correlation appears between schools with active YLTA groups and reduced substance use. Binge drinking and past-month alcohol use among students in those schools have dropped below rates for the rest of the state — and the rest of the North Country. The numbers of kids reporting having ever used alcohol is also down.

“YLTA is achieving great results in helping students understand the consequences of substance use and helping them become positive role models to other students in their communities,” Rourke said. “The impact is clear in evaluation of the program, and I look forward to seeing the program expand beyond the North Country as its efficacy is further understood.”

The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund and the Foundation’s Substance Use Disorders portfolio, in tandem, are helping make this program possible. Since 2009, the North Country Health Consortium has received $914,147 in grant funding to develop and run YLTA.

“The Tillotson funding will allow the North Country Health Consortium to continue and enhance prevention efforts in North Country schools and communities,” said Nancy Frank, executive director of the North Country Health Consortium. “YLTA empowers North Country youth to lead and promote the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and reduce substance misuse. Over the course of the next year, YLTA groups will expand their focus to address identified community needs, including the rise in heroin use.”

YLTA has been endorsed as a promising practice by a panel of national experts convened by the state Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services and the NH Center for Excellence. It is anticipated that YLTA will be identified as an evidence-based practice and replicated for use around the state and country.

The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund accepts proposals from eligible organizations providing services in Colebrook, Pittsburg, Clarksville, Stewartstown, Dixville Notch and other towns in Coos County, as well as bordering communities in Quebec and Vermont. The fund is also interested in applicants that serve these communities as part of a larger regional effort. The next application deadline is Monday, July 6, 2015. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit www.nhcf.org/tillotson for eligibility requirements, application guidelines and forms, and answers to frequently asked questions. For more information, contact Jean Clarke at 800-464-6641 ext. 20238 or jean.clarke@nhcf.org.

Grant awards were made to the following organizations from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation:

  • The Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH received $90,000 to organize and support civic engagement programs in the North Country over the next two years.
  • The Coos Economic Development Corporation in Groveton, NH received $25,000 to support start-up operations and maintenance for a new regional business enterprise center in Groveton.
  • Les Comptonales in Compton, Quebec received $25,000 to construct 20 permanent and weatherproof kiosks for the Public Market in Compton.
  • The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies in Concord, NH received $55,792 to develop a comprehensive education dashboard and convene regional leaders addressing interrelated education, health and workforce opportunities in the North Country.
  • The North Country Chamber of Commerce in Colebrook, NH received $60,000 to support its operations over the next three years.
  • The North Country Charter Academy in Littleton, NH received $32,125 to purchase new computers and curriculum software licenses helping to sustain its online middle and high school alternative educational programs.
  • The North Country Health Consortium in Littleton, NH received $75,000 to support the Youth Leadership Through Adventure prevention network and leadership strategies in North Country middle and high schools (with an additional $75,000 match grant from the Foundation’s Substance Use Disorders Portfolio).
  • The Northern Forest Canoe Trail in Waitsfield, VT received $50,000 to support its operations over the next year.
  • The Trust for Public Land in Montpelier, VT received $200,000 to support the creation of a 1,342-acre community forest in Milan, NH over the next two years.

About the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation was created in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire, and is dedicated to strengthening communities across the Granite State. The Foundation manages a growing collection of 1,700 philanthropic funds created by generous families, individuals and businesses, and awards more than $30 million in grants and scholarships every year. The Foundation invests charitable assets for today and tomorrow; works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving; supports critical work happening in New Hampshire communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. For more information, please visit www.nhcf.org or call 603-225-6641.