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Closing the Opportunity Gap

New circumstances require new approaches.

Closing the opportunity gap—the divide that leaves many Vermonters struggling to build bright, secure futures no matter how hard they work—is the cornerstone of our mission. No one should be held back by their zip code, income level, the color of their skin, or any aspect of their identity. In a world upended by COVID-19, systemic racism, and growing economic inequity, the role of philanthropy in addressing these conditions has evolved.
Learn more about our new strategies in this video from Vice President for Grants and Community Impact Holly Morehouse.

Five New Areas of Impact

We have identified five impact areas central to both individual prosperity and community vitality. These impact areas build on our work to close the opportunity gap, while incorporating important learnings from the past few years.

Impact Areas graphic

Expansive and dynamic by design and with principles of equity embedded throughout, these five impact areas provide an updated framework for how we work with nonprofits, donors and fundholders, grantees, and partners across Vermont. Opportunities to learn together, build deeper understanding, and move forward with flexibility and trust are inherent to our approach.

Grounded in place, informed by data, rooted in equity.

Ryegate’s challenges are different from Rutland’s. Brattleboro’s priorities are not the same as Bennington’s. While embracing the commonalities that make us all Vermonters, the impact areas and strategies for progress within recognize the unique needs of each geographic region­–place by place, community by community.

That keen attention to place is complemented by our deep commitment to:

  • Curiosity and mutual learning
  • Advancing equity and antiracism
  • Trust and flexibility in grantmaking

What does this mean for you?

For our donors and fundholders, it’s an invitation and an opportunity to deepen engagement with the Community Foundation. To not only give together, but learn together for greater impact. To not only respond to pressing needs, but to build a stronger, healthier, more resilient Vermont for future generations.

For grantees, this means operational grants to core nonprofit partners, bringing together groups of organizations with expertise in specific areas to deepen understanding, simplified application processes, and funding innovative new approaches, among other initiatives.

Join our work to close the opportunity gap!

  • Learn more: Read this Q&A on the impact areas with VP of Grants and Community Impact, Holly Morehouse.
  • Talk with an advisor: Set up a meeting with your philanthropic advisor at to learn more about special giving opportunities for fundholders.
  • Subscribe to the Insight Hub: Learn how philanthropy can impact the issues you care about.
  • Apply for a grant: Get in touch with our Grants and Community Impact team at
  • Open a fund: A donor advised fund or a discretionary fund at the Foundation can help you make the most of your charitable giving.

Five Areas of Impact to Close the Opportunity Gap:

Economic Equity

Owning a home or a business is one of the most powerful ways to build financial security and generational wealth. Every Vermonter should have that opportunity. Alongside that, investing in the characteristics that make each community unique will build economic vibrancy, making Vermont a place where people can work and thrive.

Our grantmaking in this area will prioritize:

  • Enabling home ownership and affordable housing
  • Supporting place-based economic development that capitalizes on a community’s unique assets and potential
  • Providing support for entrepreneurs and small business owners

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Education & Training

From childcare to college, affordable options for lifelong learning play a vital role in driving economic mobility, strengthening the middle class, and combating systemic race- and gender-based oppression. Grantmaking through the Community Foundation, in partnership with our supporting organizations (Let’s Grow Kids, McClure Foundation, and The Curtis Fund), will focus on:

  • Strengthening early childhood education and child care

  • Increasing access to afterschool and summer learning opportunities

  • Addressing college affordability, access, and success

  • Providing training and education for the most promising careers

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Health & Wellbeing

Individual health and wellbeing is essential to community health and wellbeing. The pandemic revealed, and in many cases worsened, inequities and gaps in health care. From access to primary care, to support for mental health, to encouraging healthy food, physical activity, and community connection, grantmaking in this area will focus on:

  • Helping youth to thrive
  • Caring for older Vermonters
  • Ensuring health equity
  • Supporting mental health and wellness
  • Building social cohesion

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Climate & the Environment

Vermont’s deep connection to the working landscape, natural resources, and outdoor recreation link our long-term economic vitality directly to a healthy natural environment. Grantmaking in this area will include:

  • Improving land use and the forest economy
  • Strengthening farm viability and local/regional food systems
  • Protecting climate and environmental justice
  • Promoting clean and efficient energy

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Democracy, Trust, & Community Leadership

When we build community institutions that people trust, we increase the connections that bring neighbors together to solve problems. From school boards to local government, cultivating leadership and civic engagement are at the heart of community decision-making and participatory government. Grantmaking in this area will include:

  • Engaging Vermonters in decision-making and democracy
  • Building trust and connection
  • Supporting strong, skilled, representative community leaders
  • Exploring new ideas around governance, voting, and elections

Learn More