After three years and donations from more than 2,000 supporters, Vermont Public Radio surpassed the $10 million goal for its VPR Next Capital Campaign on June 29.
The successful completion of the campaign positions VPR to embrace the opportunities of a dynamic and changing media landscape, while solidifying its strong foundation built on 40 years of public service.
The campaign focused on two important initiatives: $8 million for an expansion and renovation of VPR’s headquarters in Colchester and $2 million to create an Innovation Fund to help launch new programming and news projects.
“We kicked off this campaign with support from 100 percent of the VPR staff and board,” said Peggy Williams, chair of VPR’s Board of Directors. “That demonstration of commitment set the tone for the rest of the campaign. The generosity we have experienced is breathtaking and an inspiration to the staff, who are dedicated to serving our whole community.”
According to VPR President Robin Turnau, the timing of completing the campaign couldn’t be more symbolic. “Forty years ago this summer VPR went on the air with a single transmitter on Mount Ascutney. Thanks to the longtime support of our members and underwriters, VPR has grown into a robust statewide network, serving our region with both news and classical programming. The success of the VPR Next Campaign has us looking ahead to the next 40 years of public service.”
The impact of the VPR Next Campaign is far-reaching:
- The expansion and renovation of VPR’s headquarters in Colchester. VPR had outgrown its facility, originally designed for 27 full-time employees. The building now provides more flexible and collaborative workspaces. For example, the news, programming, Vermont Edition and digital teams can work together in the same space for the first time, allowing for greater collaboration and creativity.
- The expansion of VPR headquarters has enabled VPR to open its doors to the public like never before with Studio One, a live performance studio with 120-seat capacity and live video and audio broadcast capabilities for greater connection with audiences near and far.
- Two original podcasts, Brave Little State and But Why? have launched in the past year. VPR has established a team to focus on expanding and strengthening its digital and on-demand content, to meet audiences where they are and to serve a broader community.
- The facility was built with environmental responsibility and sustainability in mind, which has resulted in VPR becoming a “net zero” facility thanks to assistance from Efficiency Vermont. The architectural and construction teams on the project have both won awards for “green” construction and environmental design for the VPR project.
- VPR is establishing an investigative reporting desk and interviewing candidates to serve as editor/reporter of this new initiative.
- The campaign has made it possible for VPR to join the New England News Collaborative (NENC). The collaborative includes staff at eight public radio stations specifically dedicated to changing the impact of public media journalism at a regional level on topics like immigration, energy, climate, infrastructure and more.
The VPR Next campaign launched in April 2014 when former board member Donna Carpenter and her husband Jake, founders of Burton Snowboards, offered a $1 million challenge to the VPR Board of Directors. The first to respond to the call was Bill and Jane Stetson of Norwich, longtime supporters of VPR.
Last week, the effort came full circle: Bill Stetson, also a former board member, made the gift that pushed the campaign over the $10 million mark. “It was fitting that one of the first donors to the campaign was also the one who put us over the top at the end,” Turnau said.
"The reality is that so many people worked hard to make this campaign happen for our beloved public radio station,” said Stetson. “My participation in this effort means so much to me; I made my first donation to VPR right out of college in 1978!"
During the public phase of the campaign, hundreds of people stepped up to participate in a generous $1 million matching challenge offered by the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation.
“In true public radio fashion, the campaign was successful thanks to a broad and diverse array of supporters,” said Charlie Kireker, who was chair of the board for the past two years. “More than 2,000 people made gifts ranging from $10 to $1 million. Every single gift added up to a successful effort, one that will allow VPR to enhance its public service to communities across Vermont and beyond.”
A grand opening of the new facility and open house is planned for Saturday, September 9. The public is welcome to tour the new facility and participate in a variety of programs and events to mark the success of the campaign as well as VPR’s 40th anniversary.