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4th-grader helps Woodstock Elementary School receive grant promoting anti-racism education, books, discussion

A local elementary school student has received a grant from the Vermont Community Foundation to help diversify Woodstock Elementary School’s library and expand anti-racism efforts, according to a VCF press release Jan. 28.

Through the efforts of 4th-grader Tripp Overbay, Woodstock Elementary School recently received a $1,920 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Spark Connecting Community grant program. The grant will help fund Overbay’s Be The Change Books and Book Groups which will further his efforts to spread racial justice and initiate conversations about anti-racism by buying diverse books and expanding teacher resources to foster racial understanding and activism.

Overbay points out that “There are not a lot of humans of color living in Vermont. Books can expose students to different races and cultures and develop anti-racist attitudes.”

Having a school library that is brimming with different genres featuring humans of color, including fiction, non fiction, historical fiction, and poetry, helps children build understanding, knowledge, and compassion for all races. Even picture books play a vital role in helping children see differences and accept them.

Overbay hopes these books can spark dialogues. He points out he “doesn’t just want the books to sit on the shelves,” but he also knows it is difficult to talk about race, so this project includes helping build the resources needed to initiate dialogue. He will partner with the WCSU Racial Justice Coalition in their effort to educate and support community conversations, as well as search out resources through national organizations.

Spark Connecting Community grant program puts building and nurturing community front and center. The Foundation aims to support the work happening throughout Vermont’s 251 towns to build 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.

“If you have the power, make a change,” people chanted in unison while marching at the Fight for Justice protest Overbay organized in Woodstock last June. The message he hoped to instill was action is needed in order to end racism. After speaking at another rally, helping a local student organize a protest in her community, and talking to various classes about activism, Overbay created his Be The Change books and book groups.

The Vermont Community Foundation aims to inspire “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 people who care about Vermont to find and fund causes they love,” VCF said in a statement. “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,” it continued.

For more info visit vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355.

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