Neil and Louise Tillotson (Photo courtesy of Steve Barba).
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 $3.5 million annually. Since 2006, more than $41 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 vision of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund is “to serve as a resource for the people of Coös County and neighboring communities in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and southern Québec to forge their own pathways to well-being and cultivate a region that thrives.” The Tillotson Fund serves as a stable and consistent source of support for the people of the region to:
- Create and enhance opportunity;
- Preserve and uplift the historical and cultural assets that make the region unique;
- Hold the confidence and capabilities to foster strong communities and healthy rural landscapes.
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 Neil and Louise Tillotson Scholarship Fund, the Coaticook (Québec) Region Fund, Hereford Forest Fund, Dixville Cemetery Fund and the Tillotson Guatemala Fund.
Our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan
As the region grows and transforms, the Tillotson Fund will continue to build deep community connection and ensure that the philosophy and legacies of Neil and Louise Tillotson are embedded into the work.
What We Support
Our Community Investment Framework defines the investment areas of the Tillotson Fund. These four areas are mutually reinforcing, guided by a commitment to equity and informed by community.
We commit to supporting community-identified and community-driven strategies and solutions and we will use all the tools in our toolbox to advance this work including grantmaking, social impact investing, advocacy, convening and partnerships.
Individual and family well-being
Goal: Support individuals and families to meet their essential needs and achieve well-being.
- Meet essential needs for individuals and families.
- Strengthen systems of care.
Healthy workforce ecosystem
Goal: Strengthen the capacity of local employers to maintain and/or grow their operations, build and retain a dynamic workforce, stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship, ensure business continuity and plan for the future.
- Attract and retain the workforce.
- Establish workforce housing solutions.
- Help companies and employees build skills and systems for sustained success.
- Link employers and employees to financial supports.
- Increase access to affordable quality childcare.
Goal: Address the impacts of climate change by investing in mitigation and adaptation strategies, stewardship of natural resources, and efforts that foster human connection to the natural environment.
- Be good stewards of the land, air, forests, waterways and wildlife.
- Encourage/support responsible tourism and recreation.
- Build and enhance sustainable food systems.
- Promote, sustain and scale energy efficiency, clean energy and green building.
- Implement climate smart forestry solutions.
Goal: Support initiatives that build trust, belonging and connection and lead to stronger, more resilient communities.
- Empower youth.
- Convene, collaborate, celebrate.
- Build skills, knowledge and approaches to advance equity.
- Support community builders and change agents.
- Revitalize population hubs and preserve cultural and historical assets.
- Improve civic health.
- Strengthen municipal capacity and leadership.
Apply for a grant
Each year, The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund awards more than $3.5 million in grants to support economic development, education and community safety net programs that focus on the people in Coös County, NH and communities in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont and the MRC De Coaticook in Québec, Canada that share a border with Coös County.
The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund Advisory Committee
Steve Barba, Cumberland, RI
Hannah Campbell, Colebrook, NH
Tom Deans, South Conway, NH
Emilie Drouin, Coaticook, Quebec
Kassie Eafrati, Berlin, NH
Sara Favreau-Perreault, Coaticook, Quebec
Ben Gayman, Chair, Manchester, NH
Ken Gordon, Berlin, NH
Jeremy Knowlton, Littleton, NH – Chair
Beth Newhouse, Gorham, NH
Jim Tibbetts, Manchester, NH
Marjorie Tyroler, Coaticook, Quebec
Courtney Vashaw, Whitefield, NH
Bob Wells, Hopkinton, NH
Linda White, Colebrook, NH
Stories and Updates
Gail McVetty of Lancaster Elementary School and Marc Salmin of White Mountains Regional High School have been awarded Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowships for 2023.
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund awards $916,000 through its application grantmaking programs to support efforts in the North Country
Large, Local, Dash and Empower Coös Youth application grant programs support essential needs for individuals and families, a healthy workforce ecosystem, environmental stewardship, and more.
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund grants support essential needs for individuals and families, a healthy workforce ecosystem, environmental stewardship, and more.
Funding from application grant programs in third and fourth quarters provides support to more than 55 organizations serving Coös County and bordering communities.
As the North Country region grows and transforms, the Tillotson Fund will continue to build deep community connection and ensure that the philosophy and legacies of Neil and Louise Tillotson are embedded into the work.
As the technology has gotten cheaper and the climate crisis bears down, interest in efficiency continues to rise. Clean Energy NH is helping communities around the state become more energy efficient.
Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country provides year-round opportunities for sport, recreation and wellness, enriching quality of life for people with disabilities.
In 2021, the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund made more than $3.7 million in grants to support the North Country and surrounding communities in Quebec and Vermont. Read the stories of how the North Country's nonprofit sector has faced the combined challenges of our times with tenacity, ingenuity and strength.
Eugene Reid is a self-described “shop teacher” who has shaped the lives of generations of students. He is the recipient of the 2021 Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship, which was created to support excellent public school teachers and reward their commitment to schools in the North Country.
The people, communities and nonprofits of the North Country have responded to this time of great challenge with great resilience. Read more in the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund 2020 Report to the Community.
Sonya Salanti of Bethlehem has joined the Charitable Foundation as director of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Funds. She talked to the Foundation’s Lois Shea about the joy of applying her skills in the place where she lives, the Tillotson Funds’ work during COVID – and how volunteering to park cars in the rain helped connect her to her new hometown.
Trail Finder puts up-to-date, trail-manager-sourced information for multiple outdoor activities at users' fingertips, along with information about local businesses — from inns to bike shops to breweries. Grants from the Foundation's Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund are supporting the service.
The ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic mean an increase in need for services from the nonprofit that represents people in civil cases. Unlike in criminal cases, litigants in civil court have no guarantee of counsel, even when their homes, economic stability or personal safety are on the line. That is where New Hampshire Legal Assistance comes in. A grant from the Foundation's Community Crisis Action Fund is helping meet the need.
The New Hampshire Food Bank has hired a North Country food systems coordinator, with help from a grant from the Foundation's Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, to work with local organizations, strengthen infrastructure, improve accessibility to fresh food and improve distribution in the region.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it hit the lives of vulnerable families with an overwhelming tangle of complication and peril. Family resource centers around the state rose to the moment, coming to the aid of people who needed them.
Keri Wade of Gorham Middle High School , Erica Hicks of White Mountains Regional High School and Patti Dugan-Henriksen of Groveton High School are recognized for their creativity, commitment to ongoing professional development, and extraordinary dedication to students.
Many children rely on school breakfast and lunch programs for an important part of their daily nutrition. When schools closed because of the public-health crisis, nonprofits and school districts stepped in to fill the gap, making sure children continued to get those meals. Many are now working on starting or expanding meals programs to cover the summer months.
Salanti, of Bethlehem, NH, was hired after a nationwide search. The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is one of the largest rural philanthropies in the country, distributing about $3.5 million in grants each year in Cöos County and surrounding communities.
Taproot Farm & Environmental Education Center makes communities stronger by connecting people with healthy, local food.
The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation made $3.4 million in grants to 58 nonprofits in Coös County and surrounding communities in 2019.
New position created with funding from Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund brings energy-efficiency to towns and school districts, with an eye to driving demand for sustainable energy systems and creating jobs in related industries.
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces more than $210,000 in grants to support efforts in the North Country
Hikers exploring the Cohos Trail in Pittsburg will cross bogs using new bridges — and leave vegetation intact. The City of Berlin will update its master plan. Teachers in Colebrook will get the tools they need to support the social and emotional well-being of their students. And more
Megan Flanagan, a four-year recipient of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Scholarship, graduated last spring from the University of Vermont with a degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism. She is now pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration while running two small businesses — and dreaming of a bright future in the North Country
Life science teacher and the STEAM coordinator at White Mountains Regional High School awarded fellowship that recognizes excellence in public education and strives to retain outstanding educators in North Country schools
Jobs for America's Graduates and the Appalachian Mountain Club have partnered up to offer Berlin students meaningful, paid summer employment, skill-building work in environmental stewardship, and exposure to careers in conservation and land management
Families will have increased access to nutritious foods. Community forests in Gorham and Milan will expand, providing additional income, lumber and open space for recreation. A local community college will train students for high-demand careers in industrial mechanics. And more
Since 2007, the Louise Tillotson Fellowship has awarded $445,100 to North Country public school educators
A few examples of recent grants making a difference in communities around the Granite State: Portsmouth Music and Arts Center builds community through the arts; Christa McAuliffe's legacy continues; Kids in Chichester get new playground equipment; Empower Coös Youth Grant Committee makes its first round of grants; Veterans get support and services; History is preserved in Manchester; The largest remaining dairy farm in the Monadnock region is conserved
Results of the 10-year Coös Youth Study by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire show that a strong civic culture and deep sense of community act as protective factors for young people in the North Country, even as the region struggles to adapt to a shifting economy and out-migration. Data will be used to inform grantmaking in the region
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces more than $350,000 in grants to support efforts in the North Country
Adventure seekers will learn about mountain-biking opportunities in Coös County thanks to a new marketing campaign. A local theatre will entertain thousands of guests with live performances and film. And more
White Mountain Science, Inc.'s Mobile STEM Lab crisscrosses the North Country to bring STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics — programs to students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to dive into this modern curriculum. The mobile lab was launched with support from the Charitable Foundation's Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund
Tilly Players, after-school program at Boys & Girls Club of the North Country and After School Kids in Whitefield receive support from youth-led program of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund
The Coös Cycling Club is providing outdoor recreation opportunities for local residents, drawing tourists, and contributing to economic revival in the Gorham area. The group has now joined forces with the Borderlands Trail System, which is promoting trail networks and communities across the Northern Forest region. Grants from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation support this work and other efforts to promote sustainable economic development for the North Country
Coös Family Dental, on Berlin's Main Street, is open to anyone in the community who needs care. The clinic is filling a need that is particularly acute in the North Country, where more than two in ten adults have not seen a dentist in the past five years, and very few dental practices are accepting new Medicaid patients. The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has supported the clinic with a grant to upgrade equipment
A decade-long collaboration funded by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation has resulted in a coordinated system of care and services aimed at improving outcomes for every child in Coös County. A research brief about that work, “By Us and For Us, A Story of Early Childhood Development Systems Change and Results in a Rural Context,” has been published in the The Foundation Review, a national, peer-reviewed journal. Now, lessons learned in Coös County can be applied to other rural communities around the country to improve outcomes for children
The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation made more than 70 grants and totaling $3.3 million in 2018. Read the stories of just a few of those grants in the Tillotson Fund's annual Report to the Community
Patty Hood, who has spent her career devoted to Berlin's students, has been awarded the annual Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship, which recognizes excellence in public-school teaching
The Empower Coös Youth Grantmaking Program of the Charitable Foundation's Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund is giving young people the opportunity to make some grantmaking decisions, learn about local needs and trends, develop leadership skills and deepen connections to community
Initiative of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund brings leaders together every year to focus on opportunities and strategies to help North Country communities thrive
Program of Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund helps build and strengthen network of local leaders and enhance community and economic development
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces $1.5 million in grants to support efforts in the North Country
Kids will get backpacks filled with nutritious food to keep their bellies full for the weekend. Residents will stay informed with more in-depth news coverage. And more
The Community Practitioners Network, a program of the Foundation's Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, graduates its second class of local leaders
Since 2007, the Louise Tillotson Fellowship has awarded $372,500 to North Country public school educators
New Hampshire Legal Assistance’s North Country staff provides civil legal services to those most in need
Matt Faucher of Berlin is earning an associate degree in IT with help from a Foundation scholarship. New Hampshire's "dual admission" program means all of his credits will transfer toward a bachelor's degree at one of the state's public universities
Susan Griffin, awarded the Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship, has taught at least a thousand students in Berlin over 40 years
Coös County students are engaging community members in conversations about values, activities and resources that create positive school and community experiences for local youth
The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund 2017 Report to the Community tells the stories of work that is boosting Coös County and surrounding regions — made possible by the Tillotsons' generosity
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund Announces More Than $220,000 in Grants to Support Efforts in the North Country
Kids will leave school on Fridays with backpacks full of food to keep their bellies full through the weekend. And residents who need help making ends meet will get support through their local Salvation Army. And more
Program officer Kirsten Scobie on how one component of one small grant had a profound impact on the lives of young people
A magical, nighttime journey through Parc De La Gorge thrills visitors and helps revitalize a local economy
Magda Randall's dream was to open a bakery and help revitalize Main Street. Economic-development initiatives supported by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund helped that dream come true
Program officer Phoebe Backler and her family connected with their North Country community by helping build a new warming hut for the local ski club
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces more than $1 million in grants to support efforts in the North Country
Kids will have fun and stay on track with afterschool and summer activities. Low-income residents will have access to legal services. And more
Since 2007, the Louise Tillotson Fellowship has awarded $372,500 to North Country public school educators
High school students created a public awareness campaign – engaging community members in conversations that create positive school and community experiences for Coös youth
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces more than $324,000 in grants to support efforts in the North Country
Students will have nourishing meals for the weekend. Environmental organizations will teach local youth about invasive species. And more.
In March, we gather in person over evaporators. All year, the Coös NetWorks brings people together online
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces more than $612,000 in grants to support efforts in the North Country
Kids will learn how to save for college. Students will learn about energy and climate science through hands-on STEM education. And more.
Fund established in 2006 has granted $34 million to support the region
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces nearly $700,000 in grants to support efforts in the North Country
An historic theatre will expand to serve more customers. A town will get a new soccer field for its kids. And more.
Community forests providing income, lumber, open space and more for towns in the North Country.
Community Practitioners Network trains and connects North Country leaders to make communities stronger.
Fellowship program has awarded more than $337,000 to public school teachers since 2006
Kids will be getting new books when they visit the doctor. Families will enjoy free children’s theatre. And more.
Support from the Foundation’s Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund touches thousands of lives every day
Young firefighter wants to help those close to home
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund announces $1 million in grants to support efforts in the North Country
Recent grants are supporting innovative economic development programs, afterschool programs, outdoor education,locally grown food and more.
Public awareness campaign helps young people in the North Country feel heard, loved and valued by their communities
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund helping North Country communities to thrive
Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund grants support substance use prevention, economic development, education, conservation and more
Three North Country public school teachers recognized for excellence
Grants support education, economic development, basic needs
Quick: what is the largest forest east of the Mississippi River?
The sleeves-rolled-up women of the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network help people in the North Country become economically self-sufficient
The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund invests $5 million to improve early childhood outcomes in the North Country
Appalachian Mountain Club program teaches the science of the natural world
Louise Tillotson Teaching Fellowship boosts the communities she loved the most
We're here to help
To learn more about the Tillotson Funds and our work in the North Country, contact:
- Sonya Salanti
- Director of Tillotson Funds
- 603-225-6641 ext 205
- Email Sonya
- Phoebe Backler
- Senior Program Officer, Tillotson Funds
- 603-225-6641 ext 247
- Email Phoebe
- Jean Clarke
- Tillotson Funds Manager
- 603-225-6641 ext 238
- Email Jean