Skip to Navigation Skip to Content
Back to Impact Stories

Vermont Community Foundation Partners to Launch Village Trust Initiative

VTI Elmore Store courtesy Preservation Trust of Vermont web

Elmore Store, owned by the Elmore Community Trust. Photo courtesy Preservation Trust of Vermont. 

Twenty small Vermont communities will soon be selected to take part in a $10 million revitalization effort called the Village Trust Initiative, which launched on April 15. The multi-year effort will be funded by a Congressionally Directed Spending Award made possible by retired U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as one of his final, visionary actions. The funding will help villages of 2,500 people or less complete transformational local projects through nonprofit trusts that sustain village life, resilience, and vitality. 

The Vermont Community Foundation is partnering with the Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV) and the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) to manage the program, which is designed to have a lasting impact by building a framework to support both current projects and those that emerge in the future. These could range from revitalization of a general store to creation of a community center, to accessibility improvements on a town hall, or renovation of a large historic home into village-scale housing.

"The Village Trust Initiative represents an unprecedented investment in Vermont’s rural villages—places that we see as both essential to the vitality of our state and deserving of comprehensive support and investment,” said Dan Smith, president & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “We are thrilled to partner with VCRD and PTV to align comprehensive resources for Vermont communities in a way that builds their strength for decades to come.”

“Sometimes it really does take a village,” added Ben Doyle, president of Preservation Trust of Vermont. “After over 40 years of helping communities save the historic buildings they love, we’ve seen how vibrant and welcoming Vermont villages can be if they have a place where community can happen. This new program will help residents both restore a historic asset in a village and strengthen a sense of community and place that is now more important than ever.”

The initiative will work with 20 villages with populations of 2,500 or less. Each selected community will create or bolster what’s known as a community trust, which then takes on a transformational project of an underutilized asset in an established village environment. Along the way, the villages will be guided and supported by the Vermont Community Foundation, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Vermont Council on Rural Development, which came together to conceive of the initiative and will be its managing partners.

The partners will select the villages at various stages of community and project readiness through an application process. Those selected will receive support with community engagement, pre-development technical assistance, and consulting/contracted services, as well as substantial implementation funding between $200,000 to $450,000 for each community to seed additional funding sources for project implementation.

The financial and technical support will help ensure the Community Trust’s initial project successfully gets off the ground and meets identified community needs, contributes to a thriving village, and acts as a catalyst for future projects within the village.

“We have seen the critical role that community organizations and volunteers play in building local capacity and vitality,” said Charlie Smith, interim director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development. “We look forward to helping Vermont’s smallest towns and bringing our engagement and facilitation experience to bear in support of successful, transformational community-based initiatives.” 

The initiative’s first-year cohort will support approximately seven communities. The selection process begins with the completion of a simple intake form available at, which is due by 4 p.m. Friday, May 24. A select number from the pool of interested communities will be invited to submit a full application.

There will be an online information session at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 30 for potential applicants or those who want to learn more and ask questions. Click here to register

Read more about this initiative at or contact Kaziah Haviland at