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The Samara Fund Awards Grants to Support Vermont LGBTQ+ Led Projects, Organizations, and Scholarships for LGBTQ+ Students

Samara OutintheOpen Summit2023

Summit for Rural LGBTQ+ Folks in Halifax, VT, image courtesy of Out in the Open

The Samara Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation is pleased to announce $86,710 in grants to 23 organizations across the state in this year’s competitive grant round. These grants include funding for LGBTQ+ centered events, projects, and organizational operating support. The Fund also made 19 scholarships totaling $18,320 to graduating seniors from across the state. Combined with three out-of-cycle grants, this is an unprecedented $112,230 in grants and scholarships in a single year from the Samara Fund since it moved to the Vermont Community Foundation.

This grantmaking was made possible by donors to Our Work is Not Done: Campaign for the Samara Fund as well as ongoing donors to the fund. Grantmaking this year reflects the newly released values and priorities of the Samara Fund. The core values include:

  • Being anti-racist and anti-oppressive by practicing intersectionality, power-shifting, and transformative justice both internally and externally. This includes being proudly trans-inclusive in every level of Samara’s work
  • Being transparent with the community and funders about how Samara works
  • Queering fundraising and redistributing wealth for a bigger impact on the Vermont LGBTQ+ community
  • Prioritizing accessibility, gratitude, and accountability while queering Samara’s work to make it fun, connective, and sustainable

Samara funding priorities are:

  • Queer and trans-led projects and organizations
  • Projects that center, are led by, and/or prioritize BIPOC and/or trans Vermonters
  • Elders and youth
  • Queers with disabilities
  • Work that is harm reduction (including HIV/AIDS prevention and advocacy)
  • Projects meaningfully working beyond Chittenden County
  • Smaller budget projects
  • Long-term projects

“It was a powerful experience seeing new and current Samara committee members holding one another responsible for living out Samara’s renewed values and priorities, carefully developed through an equity lens, in our decision-making process that enabled us to continue to relentlessly champion LGBTQ+-led, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive programs, organizations, and events in the recipients of the 2023 grants,” said Howie LeBlanco and Skylar Maguire of behalf of the Samara committee. “This transformative process reflects our dedication to creating a more just, equitable, and trans-inclusive future, and at every level of our work."

Visit vermontcf.org/samara for more information about the Samara Fund.

Samara Fund 2023 Grant Recipients

Addison Central Teens has received $4,000 for general operating funds to support LGBTQ+ teens in Addison County. This work includes their flagship program, After School Drop In, among others.

AIDS Project of Southern Vermont has received $4,000 for general operating support. These funds will support the work of harm reduction and prevention including outreach programs aimed at educating LGBTQ+ and others in rural communities about HIV prevention and safe practices. The funds will also support direct services, including access to medical care, mental heath, and substance use resources, and assistance with housing and transportation. Their primary population served includes HIV+ individuals and their families/partners in Windham, Bennington, and southern Windsor counties.

Alliance for Community Transformation has received $4,000 for YourSpace: Event Series for LGBTQ+ Youth and Allies. YourSpace is a free monthly event series to foster connectedness through safe space events for LGBTQ+ and allied youth in Bennington County. Funding will provide stipends for a queer youth planning team and to purchase food and event supplies for attendees for eight monthly events from October 2023 to May 2024.

Central Vermont Community Radio has received $4,000 for general operating support. They offer locally made and national programming, including coverage of the attacks facing the LGBTQ+ community nationally and locally here in Vermont. They provide deeper context on these issues and are putting LGBTQ+ voices on the air more than ever before.

Community Resilience Organizations has received $3,000 for Milkweed Home Project. As part of their collective land project in the Northeast, they will make building skills accessible to BIPOC and/or queer/trans individuals who are historically and continually left out of trades skills, which are predominantly cis-male, white dominated spaces. This will be part of a two-week learning apprenticeship pilot project.

Drag Story Hour has received $4,000 for a Rural Outreach Program. The funding will provide storyteller stipends, mileage reimbursements, equipment, and supplies to produce 10 Drag Story Hour-VT programs throughout rural Vermont, free of charge for libraries to host and audiences to attend.

Epsilon Spires has received $2,500 for Connecting Queer Farmers and Community with Pop-up Dinners and Drag Performances! This project expands upon their recently successful GOLDEN GIRLS DRAG BRUNCH and will support two future thematic drag events with a sliding-scale ticketing structure paired with pop-up community meal experiences that are artist-led and curated by queer performers, culinary artists, and local farmers.

HIV/HCV Resource Center has received $3,000 for Harm Reduction, Testing, and Wound Care. Funds will be used to purchase HIV and Hepatitis C test kits, wound care supplies, xylazine test strips, and to supplement travel costs for their staff and clients. 

Homosteading101 has received $3,210 for Homosteading101, a homesteading class to be held over two days in Central Vermont. Funding will go towards two local queer instructors, one local queer cook, materials costs for 10 students, and a porta-potty.

Out in the Open has received $5,000 for Rural LGBTQ+ Movement Building. These general operating funds will support work throughout the state with rural LGBTQ+ Vermonters including summits, retreats, fellowships, peer support and social groups, and community organizing.

Outright Vermont has received $5,000 for Outright Vermont: Making Hope, Equity, and Power a Reality for all LGBTQ+ Youth. Funding will help build hope, equity and power for LGBTQ+ youth through three program areas: discovering self and supportive peer connections; strengthening families; and transforming schools, communities, and systems.

Pride Center of Vermont has received $2,500 for Thrive House Ball. Funding will support securing venues and ensuring that queer and trans people of color supporting the event are fairly compensated. They have also received $5,000 for general operating support of their Thrive & Trans Programs to support staff members who directly serve the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming communities and the queer and trans people of color communities. This includes creating affinity spaces, support groups, and social events.

Pride Rides has received $4,000 for a year of functional office or storage space for bikes and operations while they rebuild their fleet and gear resources that were damaged during the July 2023 flooding.

Rainbow Bridge Community Center has received $5,000 to support their operating space in Barre that serves the needs of the Central Vermont LGBTQIA2S+ community, where they continue to be a hub of support for all persons impacted by the July 2023 flooding.

Rutland County Pride has received $5,000 to support opening the very first Pride Center in Rutland. The Center will help increase distribution of services and community programming for LGBTQIA2S+ individuals and families residing in Rutland County. It will provide a safe and affirming physical location in which Rutland County Pride can host a variety of services and programming for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

The Ishtar Collective has received $5,000 for general operating support. Funds will help cover salaries for their co-directors, supporting two trans/queer low-income sex worker/survivors who live with disabilities, have been unhoused, food unstable, and come from generational poverty.

The Main Street MUSEUM has received $1,000 for 2023 White River Junction Pride. Funds will be used to pay for event necessities like insurance, police escorts, port-a-potties, artists, and entertainers for family friendly pride events in White River Junction.

The Queer Art Club in Milton has received $1,000 to support food at ten different club meetings.

The Root Social Justice Center has received $5,000 to support ongoing programming including Youth for Change, a mutual aid support network, affinity spaces, and more.

Twin States Network has received $1,000 for administrative expenses, including the salary of their executive director.

University of Vermont Prism Center has received $4,000 to support the 2024 Translating Identity Conference. Funds will cover speaker honoraria and travel needs, food for attendees, printed programs (as needed for accessibility), supplies, and other miscellaneous costs that arise from producing a one-day, free conference. 

White River Craft Center has received $3,500 for the winter/spring semester of Queer Youth Art Care. The funds will be used to remove barriers to access for both the youth and teaching artists, and to facilitate projects with a reduced financial burden.

Yestermorrow has received $3,000 for LGBTQ+ Carpentry Fundamentals Scholarships. Funds will fully cover tuition costs for 10 students in an LGBTQ+ Carpentry Fundamentals course.

In addition to the competitive grant round and scholarship program, the Samara Fund awarded three out-of-cycle grants to Vital Partnerships as fiscal sponsor for Pride Without Borders ($1,200), the Common Ground Center for Camp Outright ($5,000), and the Main Street Museum for White River Junction Pride ($1,000).