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The Vermont Community Foundation Awards Grants to 64 Nonprofits Across Vermont Through Its Spark Connecting Community Program


The Vermont Community Foundation announced today that—in partnership with many of its generous fundholders—$169,711.94 in Spark Connecting Community grants has been awarded to 64 nonprofit organizations for local projects in communities across the state, including some nonprofits that serve residents in multiple counties. Of the total funding awarded, $77,950 was made possible by Giving Together, a program at the Community Foundation that shares grant proposals with fundholders and donors to give them the opportunity to co-fund projects.

Spark Connecting Community is a competitive grant program at the Foundation that puts building and nurturing community front and center. The Community Foundation aims to support the work happening throughout Vermont’s 251 towns that builds social capital. These grants—where a small amount can make a big difference—are intended to light the spark that keeps Vermonters healthy and happy.

“This Spark round made it clear the extraordinary need—and the extraordinary creativity—that exists throughout Vermont right now,” says Sarah Waring, vice president for grants and community investments at the Vermont Community Foundation. “Applications included requests for basic needs like food and digital access, but also to build safe outdoor experiences for youth and community engagement, for art and creative mechanisms to renew social interactions, and for local advancement of racial justice and equity. They were overwhelming in their breadth, scope, and quantity. We are so grateful to our generous fundholder partners who have supplemented this grant round to fully fund more than 60 of the 100+ applications.”

Nonprofits interested in applying for the next round of Spark Connecting Community grants are encouraged to visit for more information. 2021 Deadlines will be announced in January.

Spark Connecting Community Second Round 2020 Grant Recipients

Addison Central Teens received $2,500 to support the Racial Justice for Youth Project, a series of youth-led racial justice events to be held in 2021, striving to make all teens and students of color feel welcome in the Middlebury community. County to be served: Addison

Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN) received $3,000 to support the Champlain Valley Community Table, a centralized, online platform that will connect eaters directly with local food and farm businesses. Counties to be served: Addison, Chittenden, Rutland

Ballet Wolcott received $3,000 to support the 2020 Ballet Wolcott Nutcracker, a classic holiday story that Ballet Wolcott dancers wish to continue in their annual tradition, while also offering on platforms that adhere to COVID-19 social guidelines. Counties to be served: Lamoille, Washington, Orleans, Caledonia

Barton Community Garden received $3,000 to support the garden’s Expansion Project. In response to a growing need for food in the community, Barton Community Garden will expand its footprint to produce more fresh, healthy food. County to be served: Orleans

Bennington County Conservation District received $2,998.80 to support Northshire Grown: Direct, a bundled CSA that supports and promotes local producers during COVID-19. BCCD will analyze its economic viability and host four forums, to understand producers’ perspectives and capacity, consumer trends and needs, food insecurity, and potential managing organizations. County to be served: Bennington

Bethel Town Recreation Committee received $3,000 to support the purchase and installation of the Skate Park Benches. The park will fill a critical gap in the town’s recreation infrastructure and meet community needs by providing a safe space for youth while encouraging healthy lifestyles. Counties to be served: Orange, Windsor

Better Middlebury Partnership received $3,000 to support Find your Wings: Middlebury, a public art project that will facilitate collaboration between local artists and community members, while encouraging activity in downtown Middlebury. County to be served: Addison

Big Picture Learning received $3,000 to support the production of a short film that will amplify youth voices and heighten awareness of places where learners have co-created their school experiences and pursued interests alongside mentors in their communities. Counties to be served: Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille, Washington

Boys and Girls Club of Burlington received $3,000 to support The Remote Learning Lab, a quiet, focus space where youth from vulnerable households will have access to the needed technology, individualized academic support, and trusted peer networks to complete remote learning requirements made necessary by the pandemic. County to be served: Chittenden

Burr and Burton Academy received $3,000 to support the Home Rivers project. Students will gather data in the tributaries of the Battenkill River and observe stream health, identify spawning grounds, and gain an understanding of responsible recreational use. County to be served: Bennington

Canaan School District received $3,000 to support the creation of safe gathering spaces in the school library for students, staff, and the greater community to connect and work together. County to be served: Essex

Catamount Film & Arts received $3,000 to support STJ Art on the Street, a safe, grassroots effort to gather community by filling empty storefronts in downtown St. Johnsbury. County to be served: Caledonia

Center for Transformational Practice (CTP) received $3,000 to support the Emergency Shelter Project, the co-creation of safe, personal, and heatable shelter for the community’s hardest-to-house individuals. County to be served: Windsor

Central Vermont Council on Aging received $3,000 to support the Creative Care Kit project, which will provide supplies, materials, instructions, and resources to homebound older adults for skills-based arts activities. Kit recipients are also connected with a Creative Companion volunteer to help alleviate social isolation and loneliness throughout the winter months. Counties to be served: Lamoille, Orange, Washington

Champlain Housing Trust received $3,000 to support the Old North End Community Center Mural Project, a large-scale community mural at the ONE Community Center with participation from students at the Integrated Arts Academy and ONE residents, inviting collaboraton among BIPOC youth and residents. County to be served: Chittenden

Chester Community Greenhouse and Gardens received $1,500 to support the restoration and assembly of a 100' long, historic greenhouse that will provide a multi-season growing space where members of the community, including seniors, those with disabilities, and students can come together to grow healthy food, seek mentoring, and share a passion for growing. County to be served: Windsor

City of Winooski received $3,000 to repair and restore equipment in the Landry Park skatepark, ensuring a space that is safe and welcome for all. County to be served: Chittenden

Come Alive Outside received $3,000 to support Passports For Recovery, an outdoor activity passport for the winter that will support the recovery community with nature-related activities to reduce stress, cravings, and anxiety. County to be served: Rutland

Compassionate Brattleboro received $1,900 to support the growth of sister relationships with disadvantaged communities around the world, its Unsung Hero awards, and community compassion conversations. County to be served: Windham

Cornerstone Community Center received $3,000 to support the creation of a Shared Services Hub, open to all individuals, no matter background or socioeconomic status. The Hub will allow people to build relationships with others, access new resources, and gain overall resiliency and a sense of belonging. Counties to be served: Orange, Windsor

Federated Church of Bristol received $3,000 to support the Five-Town Community Life Center and Partnership’s use of their building to offer a safe place for small groups to come together, learn, and support one another, while also connecting these individuals to resources and community members. County to be served: Addison

Feeding Chittenden received $3,000 to support the Food Access Center, which will increase access to healthy food by growing delivery capacity in Chittenden County, incorporating an "order ahead" system for food distribution, and creating safer access to food for those who have encountered stigma, shame, and violence in the past. County to be served: Chittenden

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts received $3,000 to support the BIPOC Storytelling: I Am My Ancestor’s Wildest Dreams classes, creating space for BIPOC voices to be heard and for individuals to find connection and a sense of belonging through shared narratives of resilience, vibrant cultures, surviving, and thriving. Classes will practice the art of live storytelling and create a video to share. Counties to be served: Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Washington

Franklin-Grand Isle Bookmobile received $500 to support the purchase of bilingual children's books to provide more educational resources and connect with our region’s migrant families. Counties to be served: Franklin, Grand Isle

Friends of the Fletcher Free Library received $2,755.20 to support the Digital Provide Project, which will spark community connectivity by developing, providing, and managing a collection of 4G hotspots, as well as provide technical guidance to the library community. County to be served: Chittenden

Gabriel's Children of the Green Mountains received $2,500 to support the Winter Souper Angels, an entirely volunteer-run group that makes 5,000 nutritious bowls of soup from scratch to deliver on weekdays to homeless residents who are housed in Rutland motels and a local woman's shelter. County to be served: Rutland

Gifford Medical Center Auxiliary received $3,000 to support the center staff’s Wish List initiative. The Wish List contains items selected by staff members to enhance programs or patient experience, which will be delivered to the staff by longtime volunteers of the center. Counties to be served: Statewide

Good Beginnings of Central VT received $3,000 to support emergency adaptation of its Perinatal Support Service, which will keep perinatal families connected to critical community resources throughout winter by training volunteers to provide social support and connections to mental health and other resources through virtual means. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Chittenden, Lamoille, Orange, Washington

Helen Day Art Center received $3,000 to support The Rural Art & Justice Project, a collaborative public art engagement that promotes and facilitates conversations about social justice, equity, and inclusion among community members in Lamoille county. County to be served: Lamoille

Highgate Library and Community Center received $1,200 to establish an indoor community garden, which will provide fresh, free food for multi-generational community members year-round. County to be served: Franklin

Hunger Free Vermont received $1,500 to support food access marketing and promotion to older Vermonters in Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties to reshape perceptions and reduce stigma while helping independent and multi-generational families become food secure, reduce reliance on emergency systems, and support the local economy. Counties to be served: Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle

Jenna's Promise received $3,000 to support the continued growth of the recovery center, Jenna’s House, which will be a center point for the community and help to break down the stigma associated with substance use disorders. County to be served: Lamoille

Johnson Elementary School received $3,000 to provide critically needed support for educators and families in Johnson by delivering virtual and hands-on STEM education programs and activities. County to be served: Lamoille

Lake Paran received $2,500 to support affordable and accessible environmental education programming for Bennington area youth, encouraging deep connections with local nature and inspiring stewardship of the land for years to come. County to be served: Bennington

Lyndon Outing Club received $3,000 to support free or low-cost outdoor winter recreation with appropriate COVID-19 precautions. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Essex, Orleans

Milestone Adventures received $3,000 to support The Growing Peace Project, an effort led by youth activists in Essex Junction to implement social justice initiatives in their schools and communities. County to be served: Chittenden

Milton Artists' Guild received $3,000 to support Social Sundays, which will offer free, socially distanced, and take-home art projects for families designed to bring them together. County to be served: Chittenden

Montpelier Social and Economic Justice Advisory Committee received $3,000 to support the Montpelier Social Justice Assessment: Convening & Action Plan, a two-year long project that will culminate in the drafting of an equity plan, informed by community dialogues, best practices informed by consultants, and deep and sustained engagement with residents of Montpelier. County to be served: Washington

Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network received $3,000 to support capacity growth and leadership empowerment, which will include exploring collaborative partnerships and activities to continue to support NEK young professionals. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Essex, Orleans

Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union received $3,000 to provide critically needed support for educators and families in two communities of the Orleans South Supervisory Union (Hardwick and Woodbury) by delivering virtual and hands-on STEM education programs and activities. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Washington

Racial Literacy in St. Johnsbury, led by Sha'an Mouliert received $3,000 to support community conversations in response to increased demand for education to advance equity and inclusion in Northeast Kingdom communities. County to be served: Caledonia

Randolph Area Asylum Seekers Support received $3,000 to support an asylum seeking family with the resources needed to both live safely and successfully gain asylum in the United States of America. Counties to be served: Orange, Windsor

REclaimED received $3,000 to support afterschool and out-of-school makerspace classes for local students, such as woodworking and general crafts. County to be served: Rutland

ReSOURCE received $2,500 to support phase one of the ONE Makerspace, which will engage and empower racially, culturally, and economically diverse youth to envision, design, and guide a process of creating a neighborhood makerspace and tech hub where they can build and gain leadership and career skills with peer and adult support. County to be served: Chittenden

Restorative Community Justice of Southern Vermont received $2,390 to support a two-part discussion beginning with indigenous spaces in Windham County, then the Vermont Eugenics Survey and its impact on indigenous Abenaki communities. County to be served: Windham

Richmond Elementary School PTO received $3,000 to support the expansion of physical education offerings to include ice skating in grades K-4. County to be served: Chittenden

Rural ARTS Collaborative received $3,000 to foster learning and connection in a time of distance by keeping community members safely connected both in-person and virtually through arts, recreation, and technology. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Lamoille, Orleans

Sports Venue Foundation received $3,000 to support remote learning for students grades 3-5 by providing a safe and stimulating small group setting, following all COVID-19 protocols. County to be served: Windsor

Springfield Parent Child Center received $3,000 to bring the community together through artmaking and storytelling to share and celebrate experiences of resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The stories will be collected and placed in a digital and physical publication format to share throughout the region. Counties to be served: Windham, Windsor

Student Anti-Racism Network of VT received $1,000 to support student efforts across the state of Vermont to strive towards an actively anti-racist school system, including connecting with curriculum directors to advocate for anti-racism in curriculums, and hiring speakers and hosting workshops to promote inclusivity and equity. Counties to be served: Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Essex, Rutland, Washington, Windham, Windsor

Sutton Village School Music Program received $1,715.94 to support creation of a rock band at Sutton School to provide students grades 4-8 access to an exciting, engaging, and relevant musical experience. County to be served: Caledonia

Swanton Public Library received $1,350 to support Informed Swanton, a program to help individuals navigate complex local government and independent organizations, as well as drive interest and engagement in running for public office. County to be served: Franklin

The Putney Foodshelf received $1,982 to support the purchase of additional foodshelf equipment to reduce risk of physical injury and exposure to COVID-19 when handling and distributing food, increase volunteer opportunities to a wider range of ages and physical abilities, and make the Community Center more widely available for use by community members. County to be served: Windham

The Special Needs Support Center received $3,000 to support the Parent Educational Support and Advocacy program, which supports parents in all aspects of special education and the Section 504 process to promote understanding of the relevant state and federal rules and regulations while helping to clarify ideas and concerns regarding their child’s education. Counties to be served: Orange, Windsor

Town of Hyde Park - Gihon Valley Hall Committee received $3,000 to support enhancement of the Performance Space Stage. Grant funds will be used to upgrade lighting technology, revive the hall as a hub for community gatherings, and enable virtually broadcast performances throughout the pandemic. County to be served: Lamoille

Town of Pownal Parks and Recreation Committee received $1,500 to support creation of the Pownal Skating Rink, providing a new, outdoor recreational opportunity for town residents and their families. The rink will serve as a singular place to gather and celebrate the winter. County to be served: Bennington

Town of Rockingham received $1,000 to support capacity building related to planning, funding, and implementing projects to leverage public and private investment and engage community input to preserve, revitalize, or repurpose vacant, or underutilized (deteriorated) buildings in Bellows Falls. County to be served: Windham

Vital Communities received $3,000 to support the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA). 2CLA will educate, inspire, and prepare 25 individuals to take meaningful action on climate change by cultivating a network of emerging leaders, facilitating connections, and mentoring participants as they design and implement community-scale projects that increase climate resilience. Counties to be served: Orange, Windham, Windsor

VSA Vermont received $2,500 to support Start with the Arts for Families, a six-week virtual program that engages young children and caregivers in process-focused, arts-based activities. Counties to be served: Statewide

Waterbury Anti-Racism Coalition received $3,000 to support design and implementation of a community mural derived from dialogue and a collective learning process based on goals of antiracist communities. County to be served: Washington

WholeHeart received $3,000 to support the Art of Listening Winter Series, which will provide collaborative space for presenters and participants to explore layers of identity and ways to collectively navigate current realities. Counties to be served: Statewide

Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District received $3,000 to support the Invasive Species Community Support Program, an effort to connect landowners with plant and forestry experts to improve community-wide awareness of common invasive plant species and their impacts. County to be served: Windham

Winooski Students for Antiracism received $3,000 to support the collaboration of mulitple stakeholders, including Winooski Students for Antiracism (WSA), the WSD Leadshership team, the WSD School Board members, and the Winooski community as they work in partnership to implement antiracist school policies. County to be served: Chittenden

Woodstock Elementary School received $1,920 to support diversifying Windsor Central Elementary School libraries by buying new books, building resources, and starting book groups that focus on strengthening racial understanding and activism. County to be served: Windsor