By Elicia Pinsonault
Rutland Young Professionals is an all-volunteer, all-inclusive organization that engages with our community, creating social and professional networking opportunities while building a Rutland region that attracts and retains young professionals. Despite our name, we welcome individuals of all ages and backgrounds to our events, both in-person and virtually. We strive to be inclusive and welcoming to all.
Rutland Young Professionals is a legally-recognized non-profit membership organization. This means, among many things, that we have structured bylaws, a governing board of directors, and a membership that votes on policies and our leadership. RYP members are individuals who live and/or work in Rutland County who are 18 to 45 years old. Members pay $25 a year in dues. We also offer a “Friend of RYP” membership option for individuals who live and work outside of our county lines, and those who are young at heart and still want to support our organization and its mission. These individuals are offered the same perks of RYP membership, but don’t have voting rights or access to some of our programming, like the professional development grant.
We’re often asked what membership dues fund in our organization. As a small non-profit, we’re not what you would call flush with cash. Our mission is centered around giving back, so beyond administrative costs associated with marketing and events, we try to funnel the money we receive into our membership and the greater community.
The $25 we collect from membership dues funds our professional development grant program. Each year, we award $1,000 in financial assistance to a member of RYP pursuing career advancement through certificate programs, college courses, workshops and conferences, and other professional development opportunities. In recent years, we’ve awarded funds to a local higher education professional to attend a marketing conference in New York and a practicing paralegal to pursue training and testing for the certified paralegal exam and the advanced certified paralegal program, and more. Membership dues also support events and programs like the annual RYP gala, Let’s Dish, and more.
What people don’t ask as much – but, in my opinion, is a far more important question – is what are the benefits of membership to individuals?
Beyond access to the professional development grant funds I described above, RYP members get discounted tickets at our events, early access to RYP Meet-Ups (in non-Covid times), and special discounts from the Rutland business community. As a paid member of RYP, individuals have the opportunity to join our leadership team, vote at our annual meeting, and propose changes to our bylaws and governance. You’re also invited to participate in opportunities like surveys, panels, and conversations with organizations across the state working to make Vermont a better place to live, work, learn, and play.
Membership is still fairly new to our organization. We launched our membership in 2016 and since that time, we’ve welcomed more than 300 members in total. Each month, we continue to welcome new members to the RYP family and are grateful for the support of those who renew their membership and continue to support our organization. As I said above, RYP is an all-inclusive organization. Recently, our board of directors looked at ways we could be more inclusive of our region’s up-and-coming young professionals. We’re proud to announce we’ve launched a discounted membership for students attending Community College of Vermont and Castleton University.
If you, or somebody you know, is interested in becoming an RYP member or friend of RYP, you can register online at rutlandyoungprofessionals.org/membership. If you are a local business interested in offering exclusive discounts for RYP members, contact us at email@example.com.
Elicia Pinsonault is President-Elect of Rutland Young Professionals and chair of the organization’s marketing and membership committee. She owns Elicia Pinsonault Creative Works and works as communications coordinator at Castleton University.