Innovations & Collaborations 2015 Grants

Innovations and Collaborations grants, which range from $10,000 to $20,000, support nonprofits working together across issue areas and sectors to solve problems and create structural change. The work we support through this program demonstrates the many ways that the nonprofit sector collaborates to improve efficiency while finding new solutions to difficult challenges, pushing the leading edge of change-making.

In 2015, Innovations & Collaborations made 36 grants totaling $540,500.

Innovations and Collaborations Spring 2015 Grants


Castleton State College received $20,000 for the Castleton Entrepreneurial Collaborative, which will assess local and regional needs and develop three customized training programs that result in enhanced employee skills, focusing on building women’s economic security.
Partners: Rutland Young Professionals and EVOLVE Rutland

Main Street Alliance of Vermont received $15,000 to facilitate the development and implementation of a Temporary Disability and Caregiver Insurance (TDCI) Program in Vermont.
Partner: Vermont Commission on Women

Meals on Wheels of Lamoille County received $ 20,000 to create systems so that Meals on Wheels can accept, process, and preserve donated fresh, local produce to increase food sustainability and meet nutrition requirements.
Partner: Salvation Farms

More Than Wheels received $15,000 to pilot a project using More Than Wheels’ financial literacy services as a resource for health care employees in the Brattleboro area. The pilot will test the viability of these services to become employer-paid benefits.
Partners: United Way of Windham County, Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, and the Brattleboro Retreat

New England Youth Theatre received $20,000 for their Arts Accessibility project which will connect school administrators, service providers, arts education, and after-school activities to maximize opportunity for underserved youth.
Partners: Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, Brattleboro Town Schools: Green Street Academy & Oak Grove Elementary Schools, and Families First Vermont

Vermont Arts Council received $20,000 to launch the Vermont Creative Network, a way to strengthen the internal capacity and interactive effectiveness of Vermont’s creative sector. The partners will conduct statewide listening forums and form a planning group to write a strategic plan, create working groups, and build communication tools.
Partners: Champlain College Emergent Media Center, Vermont Department of Libraries, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development Downtown Program

Vermont Parent Representation Center received $17,500 for their Rapid Intervention Pre-Natal Project, which aims to fill service gaps with team-based service interventions to help women in medication-assisted treatment for addiction gain access to legal education and representation and social services.
Partners: Vermont FACES Network (Families of Addiction Collaborating for Enhanced Services), KIN-KAN Vermont (Kinship Information & Navigation - Kinship Advocacy Networks), and Chittenden County State's Attorney

Washington County Mental Health Services received $20,000 for The Connections Project: Relationships, Sexuality, and People with Disabilities, a highly interactive healthy relationships program with and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to ease social isolation and stigma.
Partner: Pride Center of Vermont


Audubon Vermont received $10,000 for the Bird Friendly Maple project, an effort to encourage Vermont maple producers to manage their sugarbushes in a bird-friendly manner. The partners have developed bird-friendly sugarbush management guidelines and shared them with nearly 500 producers. They aim to expand their outreach and further develop the program.
Partners: Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association

Craftsbury Public Library received $10,000 to support Maker Programs in Vermont Libraries: Spark a Culture of Innovation, a project designed to turn kids on to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math education (STEAM). In 2014, 14 communities across the state hosted events attended by 453 kids and adults. In 2015, more workshops will expand the project and all curricula will be promoted online for free use by educators, librarians, and the general public.
Partners: Vermont Department of Libraries, Vermont Public Library Foundation, Champlain Makers Fair, and Vermont Library Association

Get Thee to the Funnery received $10,000 for the Highgate Funnery Festival of the Arts, a program bringing summer arts education to youth at a subsidized housing project in Barre. The project started with two weeks of youth Shakespeare. In 2015, they will offer a full seven-week program.
Partner: Barre Highgate Apartments

Mary Johnson Children's Center received $10,000 for their Rural Fun Delivery (RFD) program, which provides meals, social support, and engaging activities for underserved children and youth in rural Addison County in the summer by bringing a van with free meals and activities to their neighborhoods. In 2015, the program will expand to include additional outreach to communities in Starksboro, Leicester, Bridport, and Vergennes.
Partners: Counseling Service of Addison County, Addison Northeast Food Cooperative, and Building Bright Futures

Morningside House received $10,000 for the Bellows Falls Youth Shelter Collaborative, a response to youth homelessness. Youth Services provides case management services for homeless and runaway youth in the greater Bellows Falls area, while Morningside Shelter shares expertise on shelter operations. By providing youth-focused housing with on-site case management, the Collaborative provides a safe home and ongoing support to homeless youth and their families and helps get kids back on track.
Partner: Youth Services

Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity received $11,000 to expand access to the Vermont African American Heritage Trail. In their second year, the partners will work to make the trail accessible to Vermonters through the creation of an online portal for educators and students in Vermont.
Partners: Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Emergent Media Center (EMC) at Champlain College


Gross National Happiness USA received $10,000 for the Vermont Data Collaborative. The Partners are building a data infrastructure to support policy and program decisions at the state and local level, both for government and nonprofit community programs. The cornerstone of the original plan is now a reality: a statewide data portal. Vermont Insights went live in November 2014 and serves as the hub and home for all data about Vermont. The ongoing collaboration will support better use of well-being data for policy decisions and program management statewide.
Partners: Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, Building Bright Futures, Center for Rural Studies, and

Outright Vermont received $10,000 to support Camp Outright, a summer camp for queer Vermont youth. The Camp has proven to be transformative for 197 youth, their families, and 140 adult volunteers. It helps youth build community, find peers, and reduce the isolation that can compromise their well-being as they reach adulthood. In 2015, Camp Outright will celebrate its fifth season.
Partner: Common Ground Center

Innovations and Collaborations Fall 2015 Grants


Bennington Coalition for the Homeless received $20,000 for Unlocking Recovery—Breaking the Homelessness/Addiction Cycle, which will provide safe shelter for homeless addicts, eliminating the pressure to find a place to sleep every night as they focus their efforts on recovery from addiction.
Partner: Turning Point Center of Bennington (TPC)

Community Health Centers of Burlington received $20,000 for Beacon Place: Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless Residents, which aims to create a new, permanent supportive housing project for the region’s most vulnerable homeless residents.
Partners: Champlain Housing Trust and Burlington Housing Authority

Open Door Clinic received $20,000 for El Viaje Más Caro/The Most Costly Journey. The project will produce 12-15 stories written in Spanish and illustrated by local cartoonists as a way to provide Spanish-speaking migrant workers with a powerful vehicle to communicate their shared experiences with each other. These booklets will be distributed to migrant workers free of charge.
Partners: Vermont Folklife Center, Marek Bennett’s Comics Workshop, University of Vermont Department of Anthropology, University of Vermont Extension/Puentes a Salud (Bridges to Health)

Green Mountain Self-Advocates 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. received $18,500 for 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.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum received $20,000 for Innovative STEAMSHIP Education Partnership Program, which will help Addison County youth meet state and local standards in core academic subjects while offering a broad array of afterschool enrichment activities that will complement their regular academic programs.
Partners: Addison Northwest Supervisory Union and Vergennes Union Schools

Paramount Theater received $15,000 for 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

Preservation Trust of Vermont received $20,000 for Vermont Story Lab, which will increase Vermont nonprofits’ capacity to weave storytelling into the fabric of their organizations to expand mission reach, efficacy and impact.
Partners: Common Good Vermont, Shelburne Farms, Vermont Works for Women, Young Writer's Project, Community Expressions, and Fran Stoddard Productions

Shelburne Farms received $15,000 for Start Well—Eat Well: Farm to Preschool Addison County. The program will deliver a year-long pilot in Addison County that extends the health and learning benefits of farm to school to children from birth to age five, while their food preferences are forming.
Partners: Addison County Revitalization Network (ACORN), Hunger Free Vermont, Mary Johnson Child Care Resource Services, and Mary Johnson Children’s Center

United Valley Interfaith Project received $20,000 for 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

Vermont Cancer Survivor Network received $18,500 for its resource entitled Comprehensive List of Cancer-related Resources: A Living Document. This list will help improve the quality of life for people affected by cancer.
Partners: Vermonters Taking Action Against Cancer (VTAAC), University of Vermont Cancer Center (VCC), American Cancer Society (ACS), and Eternity Web Development (EWD)

Vermont Land Trust received $20,000 for Improving Flood Resilience with Forested Headwaters Mapping and Management. The project aims to produce a Geographic Information Systems map of Vermont that scores forested headwater catchments for their importance in promoting flood resilience and water quality.
Partners: The Nature Conservancy of Vermont and Vermont Agency of Natural Resources                      

Veterans Education and Research Association of Northern New England 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


Creative Roustabouts received $10,000 for Vermontivate!, an online game in which teams from schools, towns, and organizations across the state play through challenges to take action on climate change. This year, Vermontivate! received funding to support training and promotional videos to increase participation and make playing the game easier.
Partners: Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network, Vermont Energy Education Program, Vermont Interfaith Power and Light, and Regional Education Television Network

Goddard College received $10,000 for Independent and Interconnected: Preparing an Indie Kingdom Network, which connects schools and local radio stations to build a network of high school students skilled in writing, producing, and performing broadcast-quality radio segments. The partners received funding this year to expand the number of schools and students served.
Partners: Cabot High School, Montpelier High School, and Randolph Union High School

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

Winooski School District received $10,000 for Mindful City Project, a community-supported model for increased student engagement and learning. The project received a second year of funding to grow through continued integration into Winooski Middle School and strengthened relationships between students and key adult supporters, such as teachers, parents, guardians, police, and community members.
Partners: Winooski Community Services/City Manager and Winooski Police Department


Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival received $10,000 for ONE Strings. The program, a string instrument instruction program for elementary school students at the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington, is now fully integrated into the school year, with participation from all fourth and fifth graders and even some third graders. The partners received continued funding to solidify teacher and parent buy-in to the program and to expand outreach in the community.

Partners: Integrated Arts Academy and Vermont Youth Orchestra Association

Vermont Works for Women received $10,000 for FRESH Food and Cornucopia Social Enterprise Learning Network. The collaborative project team meets to improve upon the common aims of FRESH Food and Cornucopia: culinary training for underemployed women and preparing meals in response to community hunger needs. The partners received funding for a third year to strengthen operations in order to sustain both programs and maximize their impact.
Partner: Umbrella

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