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The Spark Connecting Community Program at the Vermont Community Foundation Announces $116,571 in Grants

Spark Image Round 2 2022 Hero Updated

Photos by: Luke Awtry Photography for SEABA (Top Left), SafeArt (Top Right), Larissa Hebert for Sundog Poetry Center (Bottom Left), Esther Charlestin for Addison Central Teens (Bottom Right)

The Vermont Community Foundation is pleased to announce its Spark Connecting Community grant program has awarded $116,571 to 41 organizations for projects that strengthen community connections. These grants were made possible by the partnership of generous Community Foundation fundholders who contributed through Giving Together, a unique program that shares grant proposals with fundholders and donors to provide an opportunity to co-fund projects throughout the state.

“This is an impressive list of grants that demonstrates creative thinking around bringing together Vermonters through art, food, recreation, and learning,” says Holly Morehouse, vice president of grants and community impact at the Vermont Community Foundation. “Equally as impressive are contributions from our inspiring fundholders—this is the most funding that Spark has distributed in recent years, and we are grateful for your partnership.”

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 the state that builds social capital—where a small amount can fuel connections that enable larger impact over time. The grants light the spark that keeps Vermonters healthy and happy.

The Spark Connecting Community program will reopen in spring 2023. Visit for more information.

Spark Round Two 2022 Grantees

Addison Central Teens received $3,000 to support its teens’ work towards building a more inclusive community. Participants will collaborate with other community groups to retrofit a school bus into a mobile hair salon (aka the Hair Bus) that will be used by Black friends and neighbors in Addison County. County to be served: Addison

Big Heavy World received $3,000 to support Make Music VT 2023, which will build community, foster economic development, and increase social capital locally and statewide by coordinating free concerts in 50 Vermont towns on World Music Day. Counties to be served: Statewide

Bixby Memorial Free Library received $3,000 to attract, engage, and inspire youth in its five rural towns by launching a Bixby Library LEGO Robotics Club and creating its first two Robotics teams for a 2022 competition. County to be served: Addison

Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (BEEC) received $3,000 to support the Teen Naturalist Club. BEEC will provide mentors and a peer community for teens interested in the natural world by offering a series of outings and activities that will foster connectivity with each other and the local environment. County to be served: Windham

Brattleboro Housing Opportunities received $3,000 to support Ledgewood Heights Outdoor Activities. The Brattleboro Housing Partnership will build outdoor activity areas for resident children that will be designed with help from residents. The areas will inspire pride and respect in the community and provide a space for positive community interaction. County to be served: Windham

Burlington School District received $1,636 to support Youth-ukuleles, a new music afterschool program connecting youth across difference and fostering engagement in musical activities. County to be served: Chittenden

Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) received $3,000 to support the Champlain Street Pocket Park. CVOEO and Burlington Parks, Recreation, & Waterfront will revitalize a King Street neighborhood lot into a natural space with community gardens, pollinator friendly plantings, edible landscaping, and a children’s play area. The ADA-compliant park will include benches, tables, and lighting. County to be served: Chittenden

Come Alive Outside received $3,000 to support reimagining of the Pinecone Adventure Forest Trail, transforming an interactive trail into a multigenerational experience that engages the imagination, fosters curiosity, and inspires learning. County to be served: Rutland

Community Senior Center of Richmond, Huntington, and Bolton received $1,200 to support two new offerings for its community: adaptive kayaking and a grief support group. The Center seeks to make it possible for lower income seniors to participate for free in these activities. County to be served: Chittenden

Fairfield Community Center Association (FCCA) received $3,000 to support Gathering Ground: Fairfield Playing for a Lifetime, Together. FCCA’s “playing for a lifetime” vision includes a safe and secure playground for ages 2-5 with natural structures that encourage imaginative play. With the completion of the playground, FCCA will safely host gathering opportunities for all ages. County to be served: Franklin

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts received $3,000 to support SoundCheck: a Social Justice Themed Youth Popular Music Ensemble. SoundCheck is a band of high school musicians and singers working with music educators, singer-songwriters, and anti-racist educators to develop original material that tackles racism, injustice, and hate. The band will perform and facilitate workshops using music to spark dialogue, action, and awareness. County to be served: Washington

Friends of Stowe Adaptive Sports (FSAS) received $3,000 to support Rock Climbing without Barriers. FSAS will offer an adaptive rock climbing clinic to train coaches and volunteers from three partner organizations (MetroRocks, StoweRocks, and Elevate), expanding access to this sport to individuals with disabilities in Northern Vermont. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Chittenden, Lamoille, Orleans, Washington

Friends of the Fletcher Free Library received $3,300 to support the Kit Keeper Vermont Expansion Project, connecting communities through their local libraries by providing book discussion kits to libraries throughout the state. Counties to be served: Statewide

Friends of Tucker Mountain received $2,000 to support development of the Tucker Mountain Town Forest Children’s StoryWalk®, providing a fun, educational experience for children. County to be served: Orange

Gallop to Success received $2,500 to support its scholarship program, providing nurturing, life-changing experiences for lower income and at-risk youth through horses and farm life. County to be served: Bennington

Green Mountain Book Festival received $3,000 to support festival activities, held September 23-25, 2022, at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington. The Green Mountain Book Festival included three days of literary artistry and hosted a varied group of authors and community programs. Counties to be served: Statewide, Chittenden

Heritage Winooski Mill Museum received $3,000 to support Welcome Blanket Textile Workshops. The Museum will host a series of knit and crochet workshops for East African Refugee women, fostering a sense of empowerment and inviting participation in the national Welcome Blanket project. County to be served: Chittenden

Inclusive Arts Vermont received $3,000 to support the Arts First Pilot, helping child care providers to meet the increasing mental health and behavioral needs of children through arts-based social and emotional learning activities. Counties to be served: Statewide

Jay/Westfield Joint Elementary School received $3,000 to support the Jay/Westfield Joint Elementary School Greenhouse, which will provide educational opportunities by constructing a greenhouse for growing seedlings to be planted in the school garden. The greenhouse will create an alternative learning space where students can engage with the whole growing process. County to be served: Orleans

King Street Laundry received $3,000 to support the commission of a local artist to create a mural on the outside of the laundromat, contributing to the structure’s transformation as a vibrant community space. The mural will energize visitors and help foster a sense of community solidarity. County to be served: Chittenden

Milestone Adventures received $3,000 to support the Growing Peace Project, expanding and strengthening out-of-school learning opportunities for children and their families through a collaborative, experiential, and nature-based program. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Orange

Newbury Elementary School received $3,000 to support the creation of a work of art at the entrance to its school forest space. A Vermont teaching artist will work with students, teachers, and community members to design and create the piece of art. County to be served: Orange

North Branch Nature Center (NBNC) received $2,635 to support Climb Away! Enhancing the Nature Playscape at NBNC. NBNC will add climbing structures to the Nature Playscape, a space where children play, learn, and engage their curiosities. Counties to be served: Statewide; Washington

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) received $3,000 to support Community Building and Fostering Land Stewardship of Vermont’s Working Landscape. In the summer of 2023, NOFA-VT will offer six pizza socials on working farms to increase agricultural literacy and expand its network of relationships through in-person experiences. Counties to be served: Statewide

Outpost Foundation received $3,000 to support a residency program for creative writers of color, which will bring together writers, the North Bennington community, and readers and writers worldwide interested in experiencing literary events focused on the work of emerging BIPOC writers. County to be served: Bennington

Parks Place Community Resource Center received $3,000 to support the Recovery Resource Navigator Program, offering people in recovery one-on-one support with navigating available social service resources led by a certified peer-recovery coach. Counties to be served: Windham, Windsor

Rural ARTS Collaborative received $3,000 to support gatherings at the Craftsbury Community Greenspace, bringing people from across town to gather, make wood-fired localvore pizzas, meet new people, and enjoy nature. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Orleans

SafeArt received $3,000 to support the Peer Education Program, its monthly groups offered during the school year that provide an alternative learning environment focused on supporting students in the exploration of purpose and connection, as well as creating space that fosters empowerment. Counties to be served: Orange, Washington, Windsor

South End Arts & Business Association (SEABA) Exhibitions received $3,000 to support the South End Art Hop - “Art Pops!,” a series of outdoor pop-up art installations created by new and emerging local artists. Artists will be provided with access to space and funds to support installation costs. County to be served: Chittenden

Stepping Stones Preschool received $2,000 to support the introduction of high-quality, hands-on science and environmental education programs into its preschool classroom, connecting children to the wonders of nature. Programs will be developed collaboratively with the Grafton Nature Museum. County to be served: Windsor

Sundog Poetry Center received $2,800 to support Share Your Heart, Share the World, a cross-high school day of poetry in community. The event will bring high school students together to learn, write, and present in the company of local and nationally recognized poets. Counties to be served: Statewide

The 8th House Residency received $3,000 to support residency events, which will build community and facilitate cross-cultural exchange by hosting a diverse group of visual artists and curators at the residency program in Rochester, VT. Counties to be served: Addison, Rutland, Windsor

The Root Social Justice Center received $3,000 to revitalize BIPOC Soul Food Sunday. In support of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Brattleboro and the surrounding area, the Root will host monthly gatherings to build relationships, heal, and encourage support. County to be served: Windham

Threshold Collaborative received $3,000 to support Beyond Testimony: Tragic Spectatorship & Trauma Survivors as Agents of Change, a series of performances comprised of monologues written by the Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage Writers’ Group and performed by professional actors. Counties to be served: Statewide, Chittenden, Essex, Washington

Town of Brownington received $3,000 to support monthly community events, providing a relaxed environment for neighbors to meet each other, share a meal, listen to music, exchange resources, and strengthen community spirit. County to be served: Orleans

Town of Lyndon received $3,000 to support a sculptural public art installation at the Sanborn Covered Bridge. This collaborative project will create a public art sculpture to welcome visitors and residents into Riverfront Park and downtown Lyndonville. County to be served: Caledonia

Trinity Educational Center received $2,500 to support the South Burlington winter program with Infinite Teen Center, a series of mentorship workshops and experiential field trips to connect teens with BIPOC leaders in the community. Youth will be provided insight, guidance, and exposure to career opportunities. County to be served: Chittenden

Twinfield Together Mentoring Program received $3,000 to support its peer leadership program, providing youth with the opportunity to identify a need within their community and take action to make a difference. Peer leaders strengthen community connections within the school and with local community organizations in need. County to be served: Washington

Vermont Association of the Deaf received $3,000 to support the Yolande Henry Community Fund. The fund seeks to unite the Deaf, DeafBlind, and hearing communities by providing equitable communication access at otherwise inaccessible community events and gatherings. Counties to be served: Statewide

Waterbury Roundabout received $3,000 to support the outlet’s growth and sustainability. The Roundabout has been a community news outlet for two years and, over the next year, seeks to incorporate business sponsors and advertising onto their website to ensure sustainability. County to be served: Washington

Westford Common Hall received $3,000 to increase positive social connectivity in the community by creating a "place of possibility," a visual arts center illustrating kindness and generosity toward others. Counties to be served: Chittenden, Franklin