The Spark Connecting Community Program at the Vermont Community Foundation Announces $81,465 in Grants

The Vermont Community Foundation is pleased to announce its Spark Connecting Community grant program has awarded $81,465 to 24 organizations across Vermont. Recipients, which include municipalities, schools, nonprofits, and community groups, will host local projects that strengthen community connections. Of the total awarded, $36,000 was made possible by Giving Together, a program at the Community Foundation that shares grant proposals with fundholders and donors to give them an opportunity to co-fund projects.

“We saw an overwhelming and inspiring list of applicants to this year’s first grant round, representing a range of communities and populations across Vermont,” said Holly Morehouse, vice president of Grants and Community Impact at the Vermont Community Foundation. “The grantees include creative projects that get people outside and connect us to our neighbors, often through art — both visual arts and music. It’s also great to see a variety of programming for youth, given the pause put on such programming throughout the pandemic. A huge thank you to fundholders across Vermont who, through generous contributions, allowed us to double our grant amount this spring.”

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 the state 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.

The Spark Connecting Community program opened a second competitive grant round on June 6, 2023. Round two applications will be accepted between June 6 – July 18, 2023. Applications must be received by 5PM on Tuesday, July 18 to be considered. Applicants will be notified of grant decisions in September.

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Spark Connecting Community First Round 2023 Grant Recipients

Artists Alex Cobb & Grace Palmer received $5,000 to host the Old North End (ONE) Dance Festival, a community celebration of dance, culture, and our bodies. The ONE Dance Festival brings joy and connection to the community through movement in three ways: performance, workshops, and a dance party. County to be served: Chittenden.

Bristol Recreation Club received $1,200 to support the Music on the Trail performance series. A different local performer or group will be featured the second Sunday of each month from May through October on a different segment of the Bristol Trail Network. County to be served: Addison. 

Center for Arts and Learning (CAL) received $5,000 to host the Barre Street Community Potlucks. CAL will partner with the Montpelier Senior Activity Center to host a monthly summertime potluck series for Barre Street neighbors. County to be served: Washington.

The City of Montpelier Parks and Trees Department received $3,117 to increase downtown river access sites by building an ADA-accessible dock off the shore of Mill Pond Park. The dock will feature a community-made decorative canoe sculpture. County to be served: Washington.

Enosburgh Community Recreation received $2,500 for Enosburgh – beautification through art and mentorship. The organization will partner with youth and community members to create community-inspired and publicly installed art projects. County to be served: Franklin.

Essex Community Health Initiatives and Programs for Students (CHIPS) received $4,750 to host Pages, a Book Club for Parents and Caregivers, which creates space to discuss the highs and lows of raising tweens. Childcare and dinner will be provided to attendees’ children. County to be served: Chittenden.

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization (HOBY) Vermont received $5,000 to support the HOBY Leadership Vermont annual seminar for 100 Vermont high school sophomores. The seminar will focus on personal leadership, group leadership, and leadership for service. The sophomores will take what they learn from the seminar, return to their communities, and complete 100 hours of community service. County to be served: Chittenden.

Lawrence Memorial Library received $1,350 for Love Notes to Bristol – Mural Project, a public art project to be displayed on Main Street in Bristol that will center the community in poetry. The mural will represent what community members love most about Bristol. County to be served: Addison.

Lyndon Downtown Revitalization Corporation received $4,400 for the Nomadic Photo Ark Art Project for Lyndon, a community art project that celebrates the people of Lyndon through photographs and oral histories. The project will feature local photography and stories through a public, walkable art display in downtown Lyndon. County to be served: Caledonia.

Morristown Alliance for Commerce and Culture (MACC) received $700 for the Morristown Drop Box Painting and Lettering Project. The organization will request proposals from local artists and paint the grey metal drop box outside the town offices to bring a vibrant public artwork to downtown. County to be served: Lamoille.

Middlebury Skatepark Project received $5,000 to build the Middlebury Mini-Ramp, a small half pipe, in a local park. Supporters of the project are raising awareness and funds to build a large concrete skatepark, which will eventually be the permanent home of the mini-ramp. County to be served: Addison.

Paran Recreations received $4,060 to support Community Education and Study Along the Paran Creek Watershed, which will engage youth and community members in crucial outreach, conservation measures, and experiential educational opportunities. County to be served: Bennington.

Partners In Adventure (PIA) received $2,000 to partner with the Northeast Disabled Athletic Association and Burton to provide adaptive kayaking and paddleboarding experiences throughout Vermont with the PIA Adapted Kayaking/Paddleboarding project. Counties to be served: Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Washington.

Richmond Mountain Trails received $3,000 for The Driving Range, a project that aims to build a new multi-use and fully adaptive trail network in Bolton for mountain biking. County to be served: Chittenden.

South Hero Land Trust received $2,900 for its Adaptive Paddling Naturalist Program Pilot. The organization will partner with the North Branch Nature Center and a South Hero community member to develop and pilot an adaptive paddling naturalist program that will provide opportunities for people with diverse physical and neuro-abilities to connect with Lake Champlain and other local waterways through guided nature adventures. County to be served: Grand Isle.

Swanton Public Library received $2,000 for HOME SKILLS: Creative Community Workshops, a series focused on topics including beekeeping, chickens for beginners, quilting, home brewing, composting, and more. County to be served: Franklin.

The Safety Team received $5,000 for a Violence Prevention Collaboration with The Abenaki Nation project. The collaboration with the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi will include trainings and strategy development to reduce sexual assault and promote awareness of bodily autonomy and consent within the Abenaki community. Counties to be served: Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille, Rutland, Washington.

Threshold Collaborative received $5,000 for Agents of Change: Empowering Youth and Community through Creative Expression in the Arts. The organization will partner with arts and social service organizations in Bennington to bring creative writing workshops, publications, presentations, readings, and performances to individuals in reentry and recovery programs, youth currently or formerly in the state care/custody system, and those in substance misuse prevention programs. Counties to be served: Statewide.

Town Hall Theater, Inc. received $4,000 for Front and Center at Town Hall Theater: A well-being project for the elderly. The Theater will engage older Vermonters in Addison County through performing arts, to include a theater program, a cross-cultural workshop with the Pan African Choir on tour from Uganda, and a storytelling/stand-up comedy group. County to be served: Addison.

The Town of Jamaica received $1,500 for the Jamaica Community Pollinator Project, which aims to revitalize a vacant lot, once comprised of houses but left unoccupied following Tropical Storm Irene damage in 2011, by creating a pollinator-friendly wildflower meadow and wildlife sanctuary. County to be served: Windham.

The Town of Johnson received $5,000 for a new Let’s Roll Summer Program, a skatepark program teaching basic skating skills to elementary school youth and parents. County to be served: Lamoille.

Twinfield Union School Mindfulness Initiative received $3,238 to support All Dressed Up in Positive Self Talk, the fifth graders’ vision that every student will own and wear a positive affirmation sweatshirt that reminds them they are important and loved members of the school community. County to be served: Washington County. 

Victory Hill Sector received $5,000 to support the Victory Hill Trail Internship for two local teenagers. The interns will work alongside older teenage and college-age trail workers to rebuild a high-altitude climbing road, refurbish an existing bike trail, improve overall trail safety, and provide recreational access for newer users and riders with disabilities. Counties to be served: Caledonia and Essex.

West Newbury Hall Committee received $750 to support the Summer Festival Parade and the Honeybee Steelband. This year the theme of the annual festival is pollinators — who they are, why they’re necessary, and how to care for them. County to be served: Orange.

The Vermont Community Foundation was established in 1986 as an enduring source of philanthropic support for Vermont communities. A family of more than 900 funds, foundations, and supporting organizations, the Foundation makes it easy for the people who care about Vermont to find and fund the causes they love. The Community Foundation and its partners put more than $60 million annually to work in Vermont communities and beyond. The heart of its work is closing the opportunity gap—the divide that leaves too many Vermonters struggling to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. The Community Foundation envisions Vermont at its best—where everyone can build a bright, secure future. Visit or call 802-388-3355 for more information.