On January 26, 2016

Vermont Community Foundation awards nonprofit organizations

The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF) has announced that the Innovations and Collaborations Grant program awarded $312,000 to 20 nonprofit organizations in Vermont in the fall of 2015. One of several competitive grant programs, Innovations and Collaborations supports projects that help nonprofits collaborate across sectors and regions to develop common solutions to community needs.

“Year after year our Innovations and Collaborations grantees inspire us with their inventive approaches to a broad array of challenges in Vermont,” says Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, senior philanthropic advisor for program and grants. “We’re also thrilled to see that the grantees continue to inspire our fundholders with their creativity and leadership in building stronger communities across the state. This round inspired more donor participation through Giving Together than any other round in the Innovations and Collaborations program’s history.”

Last fall, contributions from the foundation’s fundholders through its Giving Together program totaled $195,000, significantly increasing the total grants awarded.

Grant awards ranged from $10,000 to $20,000 for both new and continued funding. Thirteen new projects include farm-to-school programming for preschoolers, education for Veterans Health Administration staff and health providers about the needs of transgender veterans, and a series of cartoon booklets intended to help migrant farm workers better communicate their experiences with one another. Seven additional projects received continued funding, including an arts integration program for elementary school students and an online game that challenges participants to take real-life action on climate change.

To learn more about the Innovations and Collaborations grant program, visit vermontcf.org/IC.

New projects

Green Mountain Self-Advocates of Montpelier received $20,000 for VerMENTORS: Peering Into Ability, which will create a sustainable network of trained peer mentors in order to increase decision-making skills and empowerment of Vermonters with developmental disabilities. Partner: Vermont Care Partners

Idle-Free VT, Inc. of Bristol received $18,500 for its program Vermont Idle-Free Schools. The program will encourage parents and students to be environmentally responsible drivers by conducting idling awareness/eco-driving classroom sessions, mitigating climate change, and improving health at schools with participation in idle-free campaigns on school grounds.

Paramount Theater in Rutland received $15,000 for its Project 240: Celebrating the American Experience. The project seeks to elevate the discourse around this national election cycle by bringing citizens out of their homes and into the theatre to engage with talks by experts prior to broadcasts, debates, and post-event moderated discussion. Partners: Castleton University, Castleton Polling Institute, Center for Entrepreneurial Programs, and Greater Rutland City School System

United Valley Interfaith Project of Meriden, N.H., serving the Upper Valley, received $20,000 for its Community Stories project. The project aims to collect the stories of aging seniors and working families across the region and translate those stories into quantifiable data which can be organized in ways that will help advocate for these populations. The data will be distributed to organizations that impact these populations to improve vital programming and services that need adjustment. Partner: ReThink Health of the Upper Connecticut River Valley

Veterans Education and Research Association of Northern New England, in White River Junction, received $15,000 for Am I Aware?. The project will expand an existing transgender education program to improve awareness of transgender issues among healthcare providers and staff in the Veterans Health Administration in order to create a welcoming and supportive environment for transgender veterans. Partners: VA Medical Center in White River Junction; affiliated VA community-based outreach centers in Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Newport, and Rutland; and vet centers in South Burlington and White River Junction

Second year funding

Upper Valley Arts received $10,000 for Freedom & Unity TV, a filmmaking program in which young Vermonters learn skills specific to video production as well as skills in effective collaboration, research, and time management. Freedom & Unity TV received funding to expand the opportunities for student films to be shown and discussed publicly, engaging the community. Partners: Vermont Agency of Education, Vermont PBS, Vermont Folklife Center, Castleton University, and Vermont Access Network

Third year funding

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform received $10,000 for Vermont Justice Coalition, which aims to change the culture around incarceration by encouraging a constructive approach to wrongdoing that emphasizes accountability, not punishment. The partners received a third year of funding to focus on education and action around criminal justice reform issues and the question of when, and for whom, incarceration is actually necessary. Partners: American Civil Liberties Union, Vermont Department of Corrections, Vermont Human Rights Commission, Howard Center’s Safe Recovery Program, Vermont Office of the Defender General Prisoners’ Rights Office, Vermont Law School Legal Clinic, Vermont Commission on Women, and Vermont Works for Women

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