VCF awards Spark Connecting Community grants to local nonprofits

BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Community Foundation announced that - in partnership with many of its fundholders - the Spark Connecting Community grant program has awarded $93,756 to 38 nonprofit organizations for local projects in communities across the state.

Of the total funding awarded, $29,250 was made possible by Giving Together, a program at the Community Foundation that shares grant proposals with fundholders and donors to give them the opportunity to co-fund projects.

According to a news release, Spark Connecting Community “is a competitive grant program at the Foundation that puts building and nurturing community front and center. These grants- where a small amount can make a big difference - are intended to light the spark that keeps Vermonters healthy and happy.”

Local first-round grant recipients for 2021 include:

• BF Community Bike Project of Bellows Falls received $3,000 to support the Duet Wheelchair Bike Program, an opportunity for seniors and people with disabilities to safely travel and interact with the community.

• Brattleboro Common Sense received $2,975 to support the Safe Alternatives to Fatal Escalation (S.A.F.E.) Policing Community Forum, which will strengthen community conversation and engagement around police use-of-force reform and include a community forum to discuss topics such as elimination of visible carrying of firearms by local police and options for unarmed patrols.

• Brattleboro Time Trade received $800 to support Growing Resilience, a community member and local organization-led garden effort that provides alternate sources of produce, addressing both social isolation and food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Downtown Brattleboro Alliance received $2,000 to support Gallery Walk, a six-month series connecting community members with arts, local creatives, and one another, while also driving activity in local shops, restaurants, and galleries.

• Epsilon Spires in Brattleboro received $2,500 to support Exploring Race, Gender, and Time, a poetry and film weekend featuring local artist Shanta Lee Gander and young poets of color.

• Greater Falls Community Justice Center received $2,000 to support the training of students and staff at the Compass School in Bellows Falls to use circles and restorative practices to build community and resolve conflicts and disciplinary infractions.

• Next Stage Arts Project in Putney received $2,951 to support Meet Your (New) Neighbor, which will provide virtual and in-person opportunities to welcome new residents and make connections within the community.

• Sandglass Theater in Putney received $2,000 to support Puppets in Paradise 2021, a community event that brings together local and regional artists and audience for a two-day celebration of theater arts, agrarian traditions, inclusivity, and connectivity.

• SUSU commUNITY Farm received $3,000 to support the Transformative Voices commUNITY Mural Project, which will reflect voices and experiences shared during its Transformative Voices commUNITY Ritual Demonstration in Brattleboro at the beginning of the pandemic.

• West River Community Project in West Townshend received $1,750 to support construction of the Timber Wood Frame Community Pavilion, which will support community events and spark neighborhood engagement.

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