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VWF Grantee Story: Governor’s Institutes of Vermont

GIV 2021 State House Day 35 Group circle

The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont (GIV) is excited to return to in-person programming this summer. The Vermont Women’s Fund sat down with the new executive director of GIV, Elizabeth Frascoia, who explained how their programs are much more than learning about a specific topic or listening to speakers. The heart of GIV is lighting a fire within students. She explained, “We want students to know that they can do anything. They have that potential. It makes a difference to get together, to find your people, and to ignite those sparks so that you have the conviction to follow your passion.”

The GIV programs align with the Vermont Women’s Fund grantmaking in career development as a pathway to economic well-being. In addition to learning technical skills, students get excited about careers by meeting real Vermonters who are doing the work—from artists to legislators, and scientists to engineers. Elizabeth said, “We see the students eyes light up as they see new pathways that they might not have considered… We consider it successful when students understand more about themselves and the options available to them by meeting these professionals.”

Finding Their People

By design, GIV programs help students make connections—with educational content, to working professionals, and with their peers. The latter is the magic ingredient for students who arrive from across the state with different life experiences. Interests that made a student unique or strange in their hometown are ubiquitous in their GIV program. They find and connect with folks who share their curiosity and can support each other.

“What we hear time and again from students who have gone through a Governor’s Institute program is that they have come and been inspired. That they leave more confident. They leave more passionate. They have found new tools. Most importantly that they have found their people.”

Accessible Tuition for All Vermonters

GIV participantGIV programs are designed to be accessible. Tuition is based on a sliding scale to ensure that GIV programs are affordable for any student in Vermont, no matter their financial situation. “Funding from the Women’s Fund has been crucial to help us offer accessibility to students of all backgrounds to have these opportunities.”

GIV programs have been considered an “add-on” but every alum, including Elizabeth, will tell you that it is a learning experience of a lifetime. While the world is a mouse click away, this is a tough time for students to stay focused, connect with peers, and find their path. A young woman who attended a week-long environmental science institute explained that “the [experience] not only boosted her knowledge of the field and understood what it was to be researcher… it boosted her mental state, got her out of a slump, and got her excited about school.”

Learn more at about how Governor’s Institutes of Vermont helps students think deeper and dream bigger.


Women’s Fund Grantmaking

The Vermont Women’s Fund grant applications are open annually from January to March. Please explore the giving priorities and application process for more information.