Equitable & Inclusive Communities

The Vermont Community Foundation is seeking proposals from Vermont villages, towns, and cities that close the opportunity gap by supporting local efforts to foster inclusion and belonging for people of all races and backgrounds. We recognize the powerful leadership roles that local governments can play in removing structural barriers and building a more inclusive and diverse state, and want to support communities in fulfilling that potential.

This grant program, which was developed in cooperation with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and Vermont’s Office of Racial Equity, is intended to support communities participating in the IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action, and Leadership) Vermont program. A limited number of grants continue to be available for communities not participating in the IDEAL program.

 The vision we hope to advance with this grant program is a Vermont where: 

  • All people feel connected to their communities, and do not feel afraid to visit, live, or conduct business in certain towns because of a reputation for exclusion, intolerance, or bias, nor because of a person’s own appearance.
  • Businesses and local governing bodies can easily recruit or be led by people who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) because they feel safe and supported as members of the community.
  • Educators, students, local leaders, and families have tools and resources to handle issues of discrimination, exclusion, intolerance, or bias as soon as they happen.
  • It doesn’t matter how long someone has lived here to be considered a part of the community.

What We Fund

We recognize that Vermont communities are starting in different places in their work on equity, inclusion, and belonging, and that communities will need different things at different times. We welcome communities at all stages of learning. We also acknowledge that a single project will not address all of a community’s equity and inclusion challenges, and that this work is an ongoing process, so we seek to fund proposals that help a municipality make progress in its learning and actions.

Because of this, the program is open to a range of proposals that meet locally defined community needs. This may include:

  • Requests for funding to support consultant-led work within a community
    • introductory trainings on diversity, equity, and inclusion
    • implicit bias trainings
    • equity assessments
    • planning efforts
    • review of hiring practices
  • Community-wide conversations
  • Support for the creation and work of municipal equity committees
  • Stipends for community members to be involved in the work (for example, so that people can take time off work, pay for child care or transportation, or otherwise have their time appropriately compensated)
  • Or a combination of these activities

Communities interested in the different ways a city, town, or village can engage on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion can review the Vermont Local Solutions and Community Action Team’s “Municipal Engagement for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for information and inspiration. Another resource showing how towns can undertake this work can be found in the Declaration of Inclusion Implementation Guide, part of the Declaration of Inclusion initiative. Funding is not limited to these activities.

Who May Apply

Eligible applicants are Vermont cities, towns, and villages. Nonprofit organizations or community groups doing work on behalf of and in coordination with a city, town, or village may apply if a letter of support from the municipal partner is included.

 All applicants to programs at the Vermont Community Foundation must meet these guidelines.

How We Evaluate Your Application

The Vermont Community Foundation will consider the following criteria:

Threshold requirements

  • Complete application
  • Strong support of the municipality, as demonstrated by a letter of support from the legislative body or other evidence of strong support (letters indicating unanimous support will be the most influential).

Evaluation criteria

  • Application states clearly why the proposed approach is the one that will be best for the community at this time.
  • Application is clear about work that has been accomplished to date and how it will be built upon should the project be funded.
  • Application is clear about what the project aims to achieve. (We also recognize that once underway, projects can shift as they unfold. This is fine, but initial goals should be clear.)
  • Project goals can be met within the term of the grant (one year).
  • Application clearly demonstrates that the project has been developed with at least a basic awareness of the needs of the community’s former, current, and future BIPOC residents and businesses, and is responsive to those needs. Ideally projects will be developed in partnership with diverse groups of people.

Note: By submitting your application to the Vermont Community Foundation, you give the Foundation permission to share your application with other interested funders (if any), both individuals and foundations.

Grant Size

This program will award grants of up to $10,000 for an 18-month project period.

Deadline and Notification

The Equitable & Inclusive Communities grant program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Participants in the state’s IDEAL program must apply by August 15, 2024, to access grant dollars.

Application Process

All applications must be submitted electronically. Visit our Online Grants Center page to learn how and to register for a new account. Or click here to access your existing account. You may contact the grants and community impact team at grants@vermontcf.org or 802-388-3355 opt. 6 with any questions you have about the application process.

To help you prepare, click here to preview a sample of the application. Please note that this is a PDF sample and not the actual application. To view and begin working on the application, login to the Online Grants Manager (OGM), which can be accessed at vermontcf.org/OGM.