Scenes from the SVF Foundation headquarters at Harrison Avenue in Newport, including Visitor’s Day (bottom). (Photos provided by SVF)

The SVF Foundation (SVF) of Newport today announced it will make charitable donations to three worthy recipients: the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass., and the Newport/Fall River Star Kids Scholarship Program, headquartered in Middletown, R.I. 

Last December, SVF announced it had completed its Biodiversity Preservation Project – a 20-year mission to cryo-preserve the genetics of rare and endangered domestic livestock breeds – and as part of its plan to divest assets, granted a conservation easement to Aquidneck Land Trust before selling the property at 152 Harrison Avenue in Newport, R.I. In donating its remaining assets to these charitable causes, SVF officially writes the last chapter of its history and will dissolve later this year.

“Among Dorrance Hamilton’s many philanthropic projects, creating the world’s most comprehensive seed bank for endangered breeds of livestock is perhaps her greatest legacy,” said SVF Executive Director Peter Borden, explaining that SVF was founded in 1999 by Mrs. Hamilton and operated in Newport from 2002 until 2021 on the historic farmstead known as the Swiss Village. “With these charitable donations, the SVF’s important work will live on through support of the institutional partners that have been integral to our research programs. At the same time, Mrs. Hamilton’s passion for education and the betterment of the lives around her will continue to be felt in the local community.”

The beneficiaries of the SVF’s generous gifts are as follows:

Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

A $500,000 gift from SVF Foundation to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute will support the position of a program manager for the Dorrance Hamilton Cryo-Conservation Laboratory at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and its collection of frozen samples from heritage breeds. In addition to growing and leveraging the collection, the program manager will participate in outreach activities that explain the purpose of the biorepository, Mrs. Hamilton’s legacy, and the value of heritage breeds towards the greater good of supporting sustainable food systems.

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

A historic $3.5 million endowment gift from the SVF Foundation to Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine will establish the Dorrance H. Hamilton Professorship in Applied Reproductive Medicine. It is the largest-ever gift the school has received to fund a professorship.  

The professorship, which will join the Department of Ambulatory Medicine and Theriogenology, based in Woodstock, Connecticut, will ensure that Cummings School retains its leadership role in applied animal reproduction in New England and nationally. It will also allow Tufts to focus on bringing together genomics and advanced reproductive technologies to support animal health and productivity, using genomic resources that have been preserved through the collaboration between Cummings School and SVF. (Since 2001, Cummings School has collaborated with SVF on the SVF Biodiversity Preservation Project, with much of the work accomplished by faculty members and supported by Cummings School fourth-year veterinary students.)

Newport/Fall River Star Kids Scholarship Program

A $500,000-$750,000 gift from the SVF Foundation to the non-profitNewport/Fall RiverStar Kids Scholarship Program will establish the Dorrance H. Hamilton Scholarship Fund. The Fund will support scholarships to students participatingin the Star Kids program, the mission of which is to provide educational opportunities in the form of tuition assistance to non-public schools, along with a range of educational supports for local high-risk, low-income children who have a parent with a history of incarceration and/or substance abuse.

More About SVF Foundation

The SVF Foundation was founded in 1999 by Dorrance H. Hamilton, a long-time Newport, R.I. resident and philanthropist whose interests included the preservation of important historical buildings and landscapes. Generous in spirit and vision, Mrs. Hamilton provided funding to meticulously renovate the 12 original buildings on the SVF’s farmstead in Newport.

SVF’s mission was the preservation of rare and endangered breeds of food and fiber livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats). To that end, SVF, with the assistance of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts, collected and cryopreserved over 100,000 samples of germplasm (semen and embryos), blood and somatic cells from over 1,100 animals, representing 36 breeds.

Over the course of the project, which concluded in 2021 after all mission goals had been accomplished, SVF thawed embryos from approximately 30 of the cryopreserved breeds, which were then transferred to surrogates, proving, upon birth, the viability of the collection process. This treasure trove of genetic material now resides at the Dorrance Hamilton Cryo Conservation Laboratory, at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.