The Northeast Kingdom (NEK) Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation has granted $124,449 to 23 organizations in Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia counties this fall. The awards represent a combination of grants to organizations supporting youth and education, community engagement, and increasing access to healthcare and outdoor recreation opportunities. In response to continued need across the Kingdom, the Foundation and its donors contributed in meaningful ways to make 2021 one of the fund’s largest grantmaking years to date.
“The degree of support for the NEK is simply remarkable,” said Sarah Waring, vice president for grants and community investments at the Vermont Community Foundation. “Nonprofits and communities continue to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and donors, equally, continue to contribute to timely and excellent projects. We are thrilled to see over $100,000 distributed to organizations in the NEK this year made possible through generous donor support.”
The Northeast Kingdom Fund was established in 2011 by the Community Foundation and local partners as a permanent philanthropic resource to support the people and communities in the region. This year’s grantmaking was funded in part by fundholders and donors from across Vermont. Contributions demonstrate the importance of philanthropic collaboration and partnership in advancing the good work in the Northeast Kingdom.
To learn more about the Northeast Kingdom Fund, visit vermontcf.org/nekfund.
Catamount Community Hours (CatCH) Middle School Afterschool Program at the St. Johnsbury School received $5,000 to support Sunshine Squad, engaging students in the development of community service projects and random acts of kindness. Students will work with local nonprofits to identify projects that improve the quality of life for NEK residents, sharing “sunshine” with the community.
Catamount Film & Arts received $5,000 to support Open Stage 3.0, a substance abuse prevention program for area youth, providing a safe and sober creative venue organized and hosted by teens and young adults. The grant award will help move Open Stage to the next level, promoting healing and youth empowerment as the organization transitions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Echo Lake Protective Association received $2,400 to support Charleston School Outreach: Echo Lake Explorers and Ecosystem Stewardship. Charleston elementary and high school students will visit, explore, and learn ways of caring for Echo Lake, encouraging a new generation of lake stewards.
Encore After School and Summer Programs at North Country Supervisory Union received $5,000 to support NEK Youth Leaders, preparing youth for meaningful community engagement through participation in social and leadership-based clubs to make positive change in their communities.
Helping Other People Everyday (HOPE) received $14,500 in general operating support to be distributed over the next two years.
John Woodruff Simpson Memorial Library received $4,300 to support archiving of historic materials at the library and to begin gathering oral histories related to Jean Simpson, the community, and the history of the library and its neighborhood, which will include rotating exhibitions and displays, genealogy workshops, and presentations.
Kingdom Community Services received $4,160 to expand food shelf services by utilizing a new staff person to grow the volunteer base, as well as host listening sessions to understand barriers to access. The grant will also support a 24/7 community fridge and pantry.
Kingdom County Productions received $5,000 to support AccessArts, a program ensuring equitable access to its programs by offering free and reduced ticket prices to area students and residents.
Leach Public Library received $5,000 to support a variety of enrichment activities for youth in the Irasburg community. Programs will include creative activities, such as watercolor painting, puppet-making, and 3-D printing, as well as outdoor recreation, magic, STEM-based activities, and more.
Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital received $5,000 to support its Health Care Share Program, providing 35 food insecure or at-risk NEK families with locally-grown vegetables and nutrition resources for 12 weeks in summer 2022.
Northern Vermont University received $5,000 to support Voice of the Kingdom – A Podcast about the NEK. Launched through the Vermont Center for Community Journalism at NVU – Lyndon, Voice of the Kingdom will become a platform for community members to talk about important statewide and local issues that have a direct impact on the Northeast Kingdom.
Orleans Essex VNA & Hospice received $5,000 to provide improved foot care for clients in need of upgraded nailcare tools, which will increase comfort and reduce skin injury for medically compromised clients.
Peacham Children’s Center received $5,000 to construct a safe and functional outdoor play area for the childcare center.
Rescue Ice Hockey in the Northeast Kingdom received $5,000 to support the reopening and improvement of the Fenton Chester Arena. Grant funds will assist with the installation of LED lighting above the skating surface, lowering operating costs and energy use.
Salvation Farms received $5,000 to support Northeast Kingdom Gleaners, a program to connect NEK community members with local farms, moving surplus produce from the farm to the nutritionally-insecure.
St. Johnsbury WORKS received $4,000 to support Light Remedy, the illumination of an unlit section of St. Johnsbury’s Main Street with a vibrant lantern installation, to be constructed by community members. The installation will be placed on a chainlink fence that stands in a section of downtown that fell victim to fire several years ago and remains vacant.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) received $5,000 to support trail improvements at Long Pond in Greensboro. TNC will hire NorthWoods Stewardship Center to build a footbridge and lead trail improvement.
Town of Hardwick received $3,575 to improve the streetscape in its historic downtown, engaging a local designer in the development of new pole banners, points of visual impact, and a signal of welcome for locals and visitors alike.
Town of Sutton received $2,764 to support Sutton Window Dressers. The window dressers program will provide interior storm window inserts to individuals who, due to income or other circumstances, cannot afford them. This will reduce energy use and heating expenses.
Umbrella of St. Johnsbury received $14,500 in general operating support to be distributed over the next two years.
Vermont Children’s Theater received $5,000 to support its Alumni Show, a musical production to serve NEK young adult actors who, due to the pandemic, missed two years of performances. The production will also provide an employment opportunity for local directors.
Vermont Land Trust received $5,000 to support the Town of St. Johnsbury in the acquisition and conservation of a 114-acre property in the heart of town known as Observatory Knob. This project will protect and expand the important recreational resource that is easily accessible from downtown.
Vermont River Conservancy received $4,250 to support the Nulhegan River Wild and Scenic Initiative, a collaborative effort between community members, conservation groups, and the National Park Service, to coordinate a study of the Nulhegan River and explore potential designation as a Wild and Scenic River.
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. For information on our COVID-19 response, visit vtcovid19response.org.