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The Vermont Community Foundation Announces $22,157 in 2019 Grants from the Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth and 2020 Funding Now Available


The Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth is a new fund at the Vermont Community Foundation that has awarded $43,500 in grants since its inception in 2018. The fund is now accepting applications for its 2020 grant round to support dynamic and innovative youth programs in Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford.

The fund was formed in 2018 in response to the community’s recognition that middle and high school youth in the Bennington area are looking for more opportunities to pursue their interests and build new skills. Growing the number of youth development programs can play a vital role in keeping families in—and attracting families to—the Southshire.

Seed funding from the Community Foundation will support $60,000 in grants. The Foundation is committed to raising at least $500,000 in the next several years to assure that the fund can continue to make at least $20,000 in annual grants in perpetuity, with an overarching goal to grow the fund to $1 million and more than double the annual grants.

In 2019, the fund awarded $22,157 in grants. Of that total, $12,500 was made possible by Giving Together, a program at the Community Foundation that shares grant proposals with fundholders and donors, giving them the opportunity to co-fund projects.

“Ensuring access to the support systems and education pathways that set up young people for healthy, productive adulthood is critical to closing the opportunity gap, but can be challenging for many Vermont communities,” notes Foundation President Dan Smith. “We established the Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth to address this challenge in the Bennington region, and it’s been exciting to see the momentum of last year’s inaugural grantees. I’m confident this year’s recipients will continue to move the needle towards making sure every Southshire youth is set up for success.”

For more information on the Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth and its $1 million goal, please contact Bennington County-based Elisabeth Marx, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at the Vermont Community Foundation at 802-388-3355 ext. 241.

Applications for the 2020 grant round will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2020. Visit to learn more and apply.

2019 Grantmaking

Southwest Vermont Regional Technical School District (dba Career Development Center) received $4,000 to train Mount Anthony Union High School seniors in computer numerical control (CNC) manufacturing, with the opportunity to do a paid summer internship upon successful course completion. 

United Counseling Service received $4,000 to support at-risk youth to organize a one-day summit called Expression of Self, where attendees will use videography, photography, art, dance, and the written word to convey the experience of being a youth in today’s Vermont.

Queer Connect received $4,000 to build and support a community of LGBTQ students with representation from each Southshire school who will host monthly meetings to explore queer youth experiences and needs, as well as engage community leaders, parents and school staff to stimulate productive conversation and understanding.

Vermont Arts Exchange received $3,825 to offer six Bennington students an immersive six-week session of lessons and coaching on voice, songwriting, recording technology, practical music theory, and public performance of original works. 

Bennington Free Library received $2,000 to provide youth in sixth to ninth grade the opportunity to explore and develop confidence in computation skills through designing, building, and coding Lego Robotics projects, in partnership with Bennington County 4-H.

Governor's Institutes of Vermont received $2,000 to give scholarships to students who face financial, travel, or other barriers to participating in Governor’s Institute of Vermont programs.

Center for Restorative Justice (CRJ) received $1,332 to take eight at-risk teens snowboarding for the first time at a local ski resort­­—empowering, challenging, and inspiring participants with a new outdoor adventure.

Friends of Hiland Hall Gardens received $1,000 to support a five-week summer internship at the Hiland Hall Gardens for six middle school students, involving garden maintenance, vegetable picking, and farmers market sales.