Opportunity Gap: Letter of Introduction

As we sharpen our focus on the role of philanthropy in closing the opportunity gap, we are dedicating  a significant portion of our discretionary grantmaking resources to ensure that more Vermonters have access to: affordable, high-quality early care and learning; affordable pathways to college and career training; strong resources to support families; and the creation of communities that offer hope, connection, and economic opportunity.

What Does This Mean for Grantseekers?

We will continue to offer over a dozen statewide and place-based competitive grant programs that will remain the same: Vermont Arts Endowment Fund, Samara Fund, Walter Cerf Community Fund, among others. Please visit our Available Grants page for a complete list. 

We will also continue to support Vermont’s dynamic nonprofit sector with several staff-directed competitive grant programs. These include the Special & Urgent Needs program and the Nonprofit Capacity Building program. And we are pleased to announce a new program:  Spark! Connecting Community. By and large, these staff-directed programs will prioritize funding requests that are tied to the four Opportunity Gap focus areas

To build a solid foundation for the common effort to address the opportunity gap, we will explore a small number of multi-year funding and learning partnerships with statewide organizations and networks whose work is core to these strategies. These partners will help inform our overall strategy, surface initiatives ready for investment, and evaluate our shared progress. 

Additionally, we will target a portion of our grantmaking toward the places in Vermont where philanthropic investment can make a particularly deep impact. We’ll use indicators of need, urgency, capacity, and readiness to identify those places. We will also rely heavily on our partners, our regional networks, and deep community engagement to help us identify locally-driven projects and initiatives. Invitations to apply for funding will be extended to those projects and initiatives that align with our strategic focus areas and are determined to be ready for investment.  

In short, our plan is to spend more time out in communities, listening and learning from people who are wrestling with these issues every day. And to take what we learn and apply it directly to our grantmaking strategy and decisions. Our hope is to help foster a level of self-determination within communities around these issues, so across Vermont people feel a stronger sense of opportunity and potential. This new approach strives to strengthen our networks, empower our partners, and give us an improved ability to respond nimbly to proposals that are ready for funding. 

Introduce Yourself

While we anticipate that our community engagement, networks, and partners will help us learn about the majority of local and regional initiatives ready for grants, we know there is good work underway across the state that’s not currently on our radar. 

Before introducing your work, we strongly encourage you to thoroughly review the following:

If you see alignment between your organization’s current or proposed work and efforts to close the opportunity gap, we invite you to share that story through a letter of introduction. This introduction is not a grant application and is not directly tied to a grant program or funding opportunity—but it may lead to a meeting, visit, or a request for more information. 

All letters of introduction must be submitted electronically via our Online Grants Manager. Please click here for the login page (it will open in a new browser tab) where you can use your organization's existing account or create a new one, if necessary. Once you login, the Opportunity Gap Letter of Introduction will be available in the list of forms. No letters of introduction will be accepted by mail or email. We will review letters of introduction on a rolling basis and response time may be varied. Thank you for your patience.

You may preview a list of questions included in the letter of introduction prior to logging in to the Online Grants Manager.