Vassar awarded $997,000 grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to establish hub for regional environmental research, outreach, and education

Vassar College has been awarded a grant by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to establish the Vassar Conservation and Environmental Engagement Cooperative (VCEE-COOP), which will centralize and consolidate environmental research, outreach and education activities at the college while inspiring and enabling further use of Vassar’s environmental resources by the college, community residents, and visitors.

“This new endeavor will not only substantially benefit Vassar faculty and students, but will also be a great resource to the local community and Hudson Valley organizations engaged in environmental science research, education, and outreach by providing a hub for work related to conservation and the environment,” says Marianne Begemann, dean of strategic planning and academic resources.

The grant award totals $997,564 and will enable: 

- Renovation of a 5,600-square-foot wing of the historic Vassar Barn as home for VCEE-COOP. To function as a new hub for environmental science research, outreach and education partnerships on the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve (VFEP), Barn renewal will include adding doors and replacing windows but preserving the open feel of the original building. Interior renovation will create a light-filled space where sliding dividers allow flexible use (by staff, partners, visitors) for offices, meetings, exhibits, and other activities.

- Supporting new activities and current programs in the renovated Barn. Longtime Vassar programs like “Exploring Science” and “The Casperkill Assessment Project” as well as external partners sharing the space will deepen Vassar’s regional impact on place-based environmental activities. Current partners include the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, the Student Conservation Association, and the Environmental Monitoring and Management Alliance (EMMA), which is comprised of nine New York organizations.

- Leadership and support for VCEE-COOP. Funds will be used to hire a manager to oversee daily uses and visitor services as well as provide initial leadership for the cooperative, a coordinator for environmental management and monitoring activities, and full-time post-baccalaureate assistants to publicize and enlist local people and new partnerships.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. The Trust’s Conservation Program works to resolve environmental threats through an approach that ensures the well-being of local communities while sustaining natural resources and protecting biodiversity. For more information on the Trust and its programs, visit

About Vassar College
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, April 27, 2015