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The Vermont Community Foundation Awards Grants to 38 Nonprofits Across Vermont through its Spark Connecting Community Program

bettys bikes

Image courtesy of Betty's Bikes

The Vermont Community Foundation announced today that—in partnership with many of its generous fundholders—the Spark Connecting Community grant program has awarded $93,756 to 38 nonprofit organizations for local projects in communities across the state, including some nonprofits that serve residents in multiple counties. Of the total funding awarded, $29,250 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.

“Spark is all about powering community connections, and this round in particular we wanted to focus on cross-difference connections, welcoming communities, and education around racial and social justice,” says Sarah Waring, vice president for grants and community investments at the Vermont Community Foundation. “These small grants prioritize community resilience, and we are thrilled by the support from our fundholders to get so many of them launched across the state. This year, both Spark rounds are designed to jumpstart long-term transformation from the impacts of the pandemic.” 

The next round of Spark Connecting Community is currently accepting applications and prioritizes projects that engage communities in creative placemaking. Nonprofits interested in applying are encouraged to visit for more information.

Spark Connecting Community First Round 2021 Grant Recipients

Berkshire Family YMCA received $2,800 to support Community Enrichment at the Bennington Rec Center, the revitalization and expansion of actitivies to increase access for area youth, adults, families, and seniors. County to be served: Bennington

Betty's Bikes received $2,800 to support Bike Repair for Community and Social Justice, a program to provide free and reduced cost repairs for the community's most vulnerable populations. Counties to be served: Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans

BF Community Bike Project received $3,000 to support the Duet Wheelchair Bike Program, an opportunity for seniors and people with disabilities to safely travel and interact with the community. Counties to be served: Windham, Windsor

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont received $3,000 to support the Rural Fun Delivery Program, which will provide mentor matches and children on waiting lists with engaging activities to be accessed virtually and in-person. Counties to be served: Addison, Chittenden

Brattleboro Common Sense received $2,975 to support the Safe Alternatives to Fatal Escalation (S.A.F.E.) Policing Community Forum, which will strengthen community conversation and engagement around police use-of-force reform and include a community forum to discuss topics such as elimination of visible carrying of firearms by local police and options for unarmed patrols. County to be served: Windham

Brattleboro Time Trade received $800 to support Growing Resilience, a community member and local organization-led garden effort that provides alternate sources of produce, addressing both social isolation and food insecurity resulting from the pandemic. County to be served: Windham

Downtown Brattleboro Alliance received $2,000 to support the Brattleboro Gallery Walk, a six-month series connecting community members with arts, local creatives, and one another, while also driving activity in local shops, restaurants, and galleries. County to be served: Windham

Camp Thorpe received $3,000 to support Camp in a Box, a creative and thoughtful experience for 250 individuals with intellectual disabilities between the months of October and May. Region to be served: Statewide

City of Winooski received $2,500 to support the Winooski Community Mural, which will aide in the revitalization of the space behind the O’Brien Community Center (OCC) and promote a safe space to play and gather. County to be served: Chittenden

Clemmons Family Farm received $3,000 to support the creation of a small park with an interpretive trail and resting spots for children and families visiting the farm. Region to be served: Statewide, Chittenden County

Dad Guild received $2,000 to support Modern Pop, a five-episode podcast aimed at reducing isolation among fathers through presentation and shared discussion of mental health, racism, and sexism, and how these topics relate to parenting. County to be served: Chittenden

Epsilon Spires received $2,500 to support Exploring Race, Gender, and Time, a poetry and film weekend featuring local artist Shanta Lee Gander and young poets of color. Region to be served: Statewide, Windham County

Essex CHIPS received $1,850 to support Sharing Stories and Meals: Essex CHIPS Chefs Club, a series of virtual cooking classes for youth, taught by local guest chefs from diverse cultural backgrounds. County to be served: Chittenden

Farm to Ballet Project received $1,500 to support the Farm to Ballet Dance Camp: Cultural Exchange, engaging participants in both Nepali and Bhutanese dance and ballet dance. County to be served: Chittenden

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church received $3,000 to support the Racism in America Forum: Focus on Vermont series facilitated largely by people of color living and leading in Vermont. Region to be served: Statewide, Chittenden County

Greater Falls Community Justice Center received $2,000 to support the training of students and staff at the Compass School in Bellows Falls to use circles and restorative practices to build community and resolve conflicts and disciplinary infractions. County to be served: Windham

Historic New England received $3,000 to support More than a Market: Finding Community in the Local Markets of Burlington and Winooski, which will explore immigrant experiences through the lens of local markets operated by new Americans. County to be served: Chittenden

Kingdom East School District received $783 to support its Welcome to PreK and Kindergarten Transition Programs, which include information for parents and transition bags for families to increase school readiness. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Essex

Montpelier Parks and Trees received $2,447 to support the Montpelier Youth Conservation Corps, a youth enrichment and leadership program that will improve the riparian habitat along the Winooski River in downtown Montpelier. County to be served: Washington

Next Stage Arts Project received $2,951 to support Meet Your (New) Neighbor, which will provide virtual and in-person opportunities to welcome new residents and make connections within the community. County to be served: Windham

NorthWoods Stewardship Center received $3,000 to support Abenaki Natural History Interpretive Trail Signs, the design and installation of natural history interpretive trail signs celebrating Abenaki tradition and learning within the region. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Essex, Orleans

Partners In Adventure received $2,000 to support Connections, virtual programs for young people with disabilities to be offered through Google Classroom, including an eight-week summer camp experience and a monthly “Connections” program. Counties to be served: Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle, Washington

Rural ARTS Collaborative received $3,000 to support the Spark Sound Booth Project, the installation of a soundproof booth that will provide community members access to a confidential place to conduct video conferences and meetings. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Orleans

Rutland Area NAACP received $1,150 to support a two-part panel series and discussion featuring the voices and stories of black and brown people living in Vermont. County to be served: Rutland

SafeArt received $3,000 to support the Youth Wellbeing Project: Mindfulness, Creativity, and Social Justice Camp, four summer camps for youth age 8-14 interested in exploring mindfulness, emotional literacy, and social justice. Counties to be served: Orange, Washington

Sandglass Theater received $2,000 to support Puppets in Paradise 2021, a community event that brings together local and regional artists and audience for a two-day celebration of theater arts, agrarian traditions, inclusivity, and connectivity. Counties to be served: Bennington, Rutland, Windham, Windsor

Sara Holbrook Community Center received $3,000 to support its Youth Adventure Program, out-of-school learning opportunities for low-income adolescents, supporting substance abuse prevention and promoting community connectedness. County to be served: Chittenden

Slate Quarry Park Group received $1,750 to support expansion of the Slate Quarry Park, a green gathering space for young people, families, and seniors in the Poultney community. County to be served: Rutland

South Hero Land Trust received $3,000 to support the South Hero Story Walk™, a permanent story walk in the South Hero local park, providing families with opportunities to explore literacy, nature, and community. County to be served: Grand Isle

St. Johnsbury WORKS received $2,500 to support Hey St. Johnsbury! #GetDowntown, a free, live art and community event for residents of all ages, including outdoor performances and engagement activities in June, July, and August. County to be served: Caledonia

Stone Valley Arts received $3,000 to support Multicultural Experiences and Learning through Art and Music, workshops and presentations for youth and families that introduce diversity through music and art created by BIPOC Vermont artists. Counties to be served: Bennington, Rutland

Sustainable Woodstock received $3,000 to support expansion of its community gardens, encourgaing residents to grow local while also addressing regional food insecurity. County to be served: Windsor

SUSU commUNITY Farm received $3,000 to support the Transformative Voices commUNITY Mural Project that will reflect voices and experiences shared during its transformative voices commUNITY ritual demonstration in Brattleboro at the beginning of pandemic. County to be served: Windham

Technology for Tomorrow received $3,000 to support Digital Literacy Education for New Americans, a partnership with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) to provide education and training to new Americans in a virtual classroom setting. Counties to be served: Chittenden, Rutland

Town of Middlebury received $3,000 to support phase one of the Middlebury Community Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Initiative, building the capacity of leaders in the Middlebury Police Department and municipal leaders to identify and address systemic racism and engage the Middlebury community in conversations about community needs releated to racial justice and public safety and law enforcement. County to be served: Addison

Vermont Parks Forever received $1,800 to support the Vermont Parks Forever Park Access Project, a partnership with the United Way of Northwest Vermont and the Howard Center to provide free state park passes for front-line workers and mental health clients. County to be served: Chittenden

West River Community Project received $1,750 to support construction of the Timber Wood Frame Community Pavilion, which will support community events and spark neighborhood engagement. County to be served: Windham

Wheelock Mountain Farm received $2,900 to support its 2021 summer programming on a variety of social justice topics and earth-centered skill-building to promote community connection and empowerment. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Orleans