Winnie Belle Learned grants available for public libraries

Vermont Public Library Foundation Grants Funded by the Winnie Belle Learned Fund
Deadline for applications: December 15, 2008
Application and information available at:


Background and Biography

The Winnie Belle Learned Fund is a fund created in 2007 by Dr. Burnett Rawson in honor of Winnie Belle Learned, a Vermont educator and his benefactress. Born in 1863 in Westford, Vermont, Ms. Learned worked through many personal hardships to earn her teaching certificate.

She was a teacher and school principal in Massachusetts for many years before returning in 1911 to her native Vermont. Together with a relative, Jennie Burnett, she operated Cherry Hill Farm in Williston. The farm was renowned for its beautiful flower gardens and, until her death in 1941, Ms. Learned was well-known in the greater Burlington area for making deliveries of flowers using her Model-T automobile called “Jack.” All the profits from her flower business were used for charity and the Williston farm became a haven for many adults and children. Neither Ms. Learned nor Ms. Burnett ever married or had children. In 1932, during the Depression, Ms. Learned took notice of Burnett Rawson, a distant relative, and asked his mother’s permission to take him from the family farm in Underhill so that he could study. Her generosity and vision allowed him to attend the University of Vermont and the UVM medical school. After completing military service and further medical studies, Dr. Rawson practiced urology in New York for many years before retiring to his native Vermont.

Grant Focus

Dr. Rawson’s goal for these grants is to help small public libraries in Vermont foster in their local communities: literacy, the love of learning, skills and opportunities for critical analysis, and intellectual exploration. In particular, he wants libraries to develop these kinds of programs and services for children (of all ages) and their families. Though the grant is not restricted to services for young children, Dr. Rawson particularly values library programs and services for pre-school children; he knows that libraries can play a key role in the development of young readers and can foster a life-long love of books and learning. Grant applicants should also consider programs and services for parents and families that meet the goals set forth by Dr. Rawson.


The VPLF Winnie Belle Learned Fund welcomes grant applications from libraries for projects which will meet one or more of the goals described above, including, but not limited to: (1) funding to develop materials collections; (2) library programming; (3) services to children, teens and families; (4) services and materials for parents, grandparents, or childcare workers, and (5) other activities and expenditures on behalf of the literacy needs of children, teens or families. Libraries are encouraged to be creative and to request funds for programs and services which meet the unique needs of their local communities.

Grant Fund Amounts

The Winnie Belle Learned Fund anticipates awarding on a competitive basis up to $25,000 in grants ranging from $500 to $2,500 to help public libraries enrich the intellectual lives of children and families in their communities.


Applications must be received (postmark date) by December 15, 2008.

For more information about the Winnie Belle Learned Grant, and for a copy of the grant application, see:

For a paper copy of the grant guidelines and application form, contact:

Martha Reid
State Librarian
Vermont Department of Libraries
109 State St
Montpelier, VT 05609
FAX: 802-828-2199