Today, the Vermont Community Foundation announced its Spark Connecting Community grant program has awarded $79,023 to 31 organizations for projects that strengthen community connections. These grants were made possible by the partnership of generous Community Foundation fundholders who contributed through Giving Together, a unique program that shares grant proposals with fundholders and donors to provide an opportunity to co-fund projects throughout the state.
“This is an inspiring slate of grants that touches communities across the state and addresses the challenge of isolation in Vermont that has been made worse by the pandemic,” says Holly Morehouse, vice president of grants and community impact at the Vermont Community Foundation. “The central themes of these grants are sparking community engagement and supporting Vermont’s youth and families—how these organizations plan to accomplish this range from outdoor recreation to visual arts and music to growing food. Because of the invaluable partnership of our fundholders, we can support over thirty proposals out of the nearly 100 applications we received this year.”
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—where a small amount can fuel connections that enable larger impact over time. The grants light the spark that keeps Vermonters healthy and happy.
The Spark Connecting Community program will open a second competitive grant round in June 2022. Visit vermontcf.org/spark for more information.
Spark Connecting Community First Round 2022 Grant Recipients
Addison Central School District received $3,000 to support an Outdoor Recreational Space. ACSD will create a much-needed outdoor location at Middlebury Union Middle School to support students’ education, mental health and wellness, and community-building needs. County to be served: Addison
Audubon Vermont received $1,658 to support Gender Creative Kids Outings. Gender Creative Kids (GCK) is organized by Outright Vermont for youth under 13 and their parents/caregivers. Every season of the year, the program will serve to create connections to nature and foster resilience and community for youth and their families. Counties to be served: Statewide
Bennington Museum received $2,600 to support Inclusive and Updated Signage on the George Aiken Wildflower Trail. The project will encourage healthy exercise and connect its community and visitors to the landscape, shared history, and each other. County to be served: Bennington
Berkshire Family YMCA received $3,000 to support Connecting on the Rec Campus, a series of family-focused programs and events through the summer months at the Bennington Rec Center Campus that will encourage connection. County to be served: Bennington
Bristol Recreation Club received $3,000 to support its 100th Anniversary Public Art Project, which culminates in a public art event that will bring together community members to create and install a public art piece at the Bristol Recreation Park. County to be served: Addison
Epsilon Spires received $2,600 to support the New England Artist Salon: Building Interdisciplinary Connections Among Artists of Color, which will provide opportunities this summer for artists of color from across the country to build relationships and share work with Brattleboro and surrounding communities. Counties to be served: Statewide
Evernorth received $3,000 to support the Putney Landing Community Garden, which will provide a safe place for people of the Putney Landing affordable housing development community to gather and connect while growing healthy, fresh food. County to be served: Windham
Global Campuses Foundation received $2,500 to support Accessible Gardening: GC Lamoille Campus & Morristown Community Garden Collaboration. The project will construct three raised beds and improve garden pathways to make gardening more accessible for individuals with physical disabilities. County to be served: Lamoille
Holland Community Center received $2,500 to support Meet Ups, including programs like Yoga Time, Story Time, Paint N Taste, Garden Club, and Book Club, which aim for community members to get to know one another, learn new skills, help others, improve health, and have fun. County to be served: Orleans
HOPE Works received $2,000 to support the HOPE Works Healing Garden, which will provide a safe, beautiful space for survivors of sexual violence to share in community. All produce and flowers will be made available to survivors. County to be served: Chittenden
Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival received $3,000 to support the 2022-2023 ONE Strings Program, which will provide in-school violin instruction for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at the Integrated Arts Academy, an arts magnet school in Burlington’s Old North End. County to be served: Chittenden
Lamoille County Conservation District and Nature Center received $2,515 to support Environmental Education and Healthy Exercise for Lamoille County, which will provide two programs: Eco Explorers and a seasonal family nature program. County to be served: Lamoille
Lamoille Restorative Center received $3,000 to support Safe Space, a safe and accessible rental space for staff, program participants, and volunteers to meet and share in restorative processes that promote the well-being of the community and assure public safety. County to be served: Lamoille
Missisquoi River Basin Association received $3,000 to support Culture of the River, which will provide a week-long canoe experience for young members of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi (ANM), teaching camping and paddling skills, engaging in pre-arranged riverside educational programs, and providing an opportunity to explore the Missisquoi River as it flows to Lake Champlain. County to be served: Franklin
The Town of Montgomery received $1,200 to support Montgomery Cares For Our Seniors, which will provide senior meals once per month and include an educational presentation before each meal from a community member and/or organization to benefit seniors’ learning. Meals will be served by area youth. County to be served: Franklin
Northeast Kingdom Human Services received $1,000 to support the Children and Families Wellness Day, a collaboration between the organization and area youth-oriented organizations to provide access to mental health and well-being supports, as well as resources to reduce stigma around mental health. Counties to be served: Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans
The Parks and Recreation Committee of the Town of Pownal received $3,000 to support the Pownal Town Green Garden Project, which will create pollinator-friendly gardens and habitat at the new Town Hall to spark community activity and promote positive interactions while creating a vibrant public space that enhances the Town Green/Village Center. County to be served: Bennington
Partners In Adventure received $1,800 to support A Kindness Garden, which will create and maintain a garden consisting of stones and rocks set in an artfully designed space. Rocks will include positive messages and designs that inspire hope, peace, and kindness. Counties to be served: Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle, and Washington
Pawlet Public Library received $2,600 to support The Pawlet Volunteer Network, which focuses on encouraging more community members to volunteer their services for Town and community organizations. County to be served: Rutland
Pop-Up Adventure Play received $2,800 to support Get Out and Play! programming, which will invite community members of all ages to play by creating welcoming and responsive environments that foster connection and creativity. County to be served: Windham
River Arts of Morrisville received $3,000 to support Restorative Arts, a collaboration with North Central Vermont Recovery Center that will provide arts programming to address the emotional well-being of at-risk populations in our community through instructor-led, therapeutic art activities. County to be served: Lamoille
River Gallery School received $3,000 to support BIPOC and Immigrant Community Members through Creative Art Making, which will host monthly gatherings for people of color and immigrants to promote social cohesion, forming relationships that strengthen community, foster inclusion, and encourage participants to express creativity and build a community of support. County to be served: Windham
Social Tinkering received $1,500 to support itscornerstone event, Gather Together, which will help communities thrive by offering all people an inclusive space to socially connect in meaningful ways—building trust, fostering belonging, and growing sustainable happiness. County to be served: Rutland
Southern Vermont Trails Assocation received $3,000 to support the development of Recreational Trails at the Stratton Town Forest. Ongoing work on the recreational trails will provide recreational resources and infrastructure to a geographic area that is currently lacking managed or maintained trails. County to be served: Windham
Swanton Public Library received $1,750 to support Welcome Baby – To the Library!, which includes community support, information and resources, and an introduction to library programs for families with new babies, along with the library’s annual Welcome Baby event. County to be served: Franklin
The Special Needs Support Center received $3,000 to support its Arts and Voices Mural, which celebrates artmakers and storytellers, and is designed to be created by disabled members of our community and the people in their lives. The mural will allow space for expression, thoughts, dreams, and feelings through art and storytelling. Counties to be served: Orange, Windham, and Windsor
Vermont Learning-Support Initiative received $3,000 to support the NEK Neurodiverse Student & Family Network, which will create a community- and school-based network in the Northeast Kingdom where local neurodiverse learners and their families engage regularly through affirming activities to share experiences, find common ground, and boost youth self-esteem and resilience. Counties to be served: Caledonia and Essex
Waitsfield United Church of Christ (WUCC) Village Meeting House received $3,000 to support Diversity and Inclusion in the Mad River Valley, Seen Through Art & Voice, which will exhibit the work of Janet McKenzie in August 2022, as well as host an artist’s talk and panel discussion on living BIPOC in Vermont alongside a community festival featuring art, music, and food. County to be served: Washington
WholeHeart received $3,000 to support Voices of Community, which will provide reflective mentorship that celebrates and cultivates voice, community, and economic vitality in response to requests of BIPOC community members who are seeking skills and support to thrive. Counties to be served: Statewide
Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District received $3,000 to support Building Resilience Through Community for Windham County Agricultural Producers, which will build and strengthen relationships between producers, communities, and service providers to protect and improve farm viability and land stewardship. Counties to be served: Windham and Windsor
Youth Services received $2,000 to support the Peer-Led Circle of Support and Accountability (PLCOSA) Program. In this facilitated, restorative peer group, formerly incarcerated graduates of a 1-year Circle of Support and Accountability program will engage in mutual support, build restorative facilitation skills, grow as leaders, and hold each other accountable in healing themselves and their community. County to be served: Windham
The Vermont Community Foundation inspires giving and brings people and resources together to make a difference in Vermont. A family of hundreds of funds and foundations, we provide the advice, investment vehicles, and back-office expertise that make it easy for the people who care about Vermont to find and fund the causes they love.
The heart of the Community Foundation’s work is closing the opportunity gap—the divide that leaves too many Vermonters struggling to get ahead, no matter how hard they work. We are aligning our time, energy, and discretionary resources on efforts that provide access to early care and learning, pathways to college and career training, support for youth and families, and community and economic vitality. We envision Vermont at its best—where everyone has the opportunity to build a bright, secure future. Visit vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information.