Giving has been deeply rooted as a Burt family tradition for now three generations. Giving collectively began in the mid-1990s when Ellen and Stuart Burt and their three grown children decided to create a charitable trust and to engage in selective and collective giving.
One of the common points of giving that emerged was sense of place and the power of community. Both parents were born near the St Lawrence River, and four generations have summered there since the early 20th century. Early on, the family made a major gift to St Lawrence University that reflected the family’s commitment to education, the environment, and the economic development to this rural, economically depressed region. Another gift was a memorial to a beloved grandmother to Emerson College. As she had majored in theater and elocution at the college, the gift went to initiate a visiting artists program at Emerson to expose students to outstanding working professionals in the arts.
As one of the trustees said in their notes about that time, “One of the most satisfying aspects of the contributions was the dialogue between family and institution as we searched together for the right use of the gift.”
The Fresh Sound Foundation, founded in 2006, reflects all of these threads. The trustees have moved toward more programmatic funding of innovative initiatives, new models of community engagement, and operational and capacity building grants. Today, the foundation is committed to building healthy communities through the arts, education, the environment and sustainable economic development.
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