Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth

Established in 2018, the Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth is a growing fund with the goal of ensuring a source of revenue for dynamic and innovative youth programs in Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford in perpetuity.

Youth are important. When young people in a community thrive, they make their communities more vibrant. They volunteer in the community and help their neighbors. They speak up and speak out about their values and aspirations. They engage in school. They are creative. They take part-time jobs and internships. They value the land and work to protect it. They give a community a sense of pride and promise.

When youth struggle not only are their lives harmed, but the community’s future is also compromised. The Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth is helping youth thrive, get the supports they need to overcome personal and community challenges, and pursue their dreams.

A rotating committee of Bennington-area residents with lived and professional experience about issues facing local youth collaborates with Community Foundation staff to review proposals and select grant recipients. Most grants are for small organizations and projects where a $500 to $3,500 grant can make a big difference. Since the Fund opened in 2018, thirty-three projects have received grants totaling $98,840.

What We Fund

The Opportunity Fund for Southshire youth awards grants for creative and effective initiatives that empower and support Bennington-area teenagers, particularly those facing challenges and limited access to opportunities due to economic distress, disengagement from school, mental health issues, racism, gender identity, disability, legal status, or other reasons. In 2023, the fund will prioritize projects that:

  • Elevate youth voice, leadership, and empowerment in the community and youth-serving institutions, especially of historically marginalized youth;
  • Provide opportunity and access for youth facing hardships related to poverty, marginalization, violence, and other traumas;
  • Expand youth engagement in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities and increase youth exposure to STEAM careers; and/or
  • Advance youth workforce development and rural entrepreneurship.

The Fund will support programs that benefi­t teenagers entering or enrolled in 6th through 12th grades (typically ages 12 to 18) including students at Mount Anthony Middle School or High School and/or those who live in the communities served by those schools.

Who May Apply

  • First time applicants are encouraged to apply. Please be in touch if you have any questions or need help with the application.

  • Grassroots organizations and community groups are encouraged to apply. Nonprofit organizations or community groups that do not have 501(c)(3) status may apply for grant awards if another tax-exempt organization, school, or municipality acts as a fiscal sponsor.

  • An organization serving as fiscal sponsor for an Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth applicant or grantee does remain eligible to submit their own application for a different project.

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

Grant Size

Grants will be in the range of $500-$3,500.

Deadline and Notification

DEADLINE EXTENDED. Applications will now be accepted between January 26 - March 10, 2023. Applications must be received by 5PM on Friday, March 10 in order to be considered. 

Applicants will be notified of grant decisions in May. Grant funds cannot cover activities that have already taken place; please keep the notification timeline in mind as you prepare your application.

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.

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 www.vermontcf.org/OGM.