Arts & Social Cohesion

This grant program is made possible by a VCF Donor Advised Fundholder in alignment with the Health & Wellbeing impact area of Foundation’s Opportunity Gap framework.

Background

The sense of belonging and connection that people feel in their community has a powerful influence on mental and physical health. At a time of polarization, ongoing disruption, and disconnection following the COVID-19 pandemic, the arts can help bring people back together to work, play, create, and solve problems at the community level—which has meaningful impacts on belonging and wellbeing.

What We Fund

The Community Foundation is seeking Letters of Interest (LOI) for projects and events in the visual, performing, music, and literary arts that create opportunities for positive social interaction, engagement, and collaboration. Projects should strengthen belonging and community cohesion in ways that are likely to persist and grow.  

Ideally, people who experience a project funded through this program will feel that they have participated in something special, had a positive encounter with their neighbors, and become more connected to their community.

Here are some examples of what the program will fund:

  • Participatory mural projects
  • Artist residencies that connect artists with community members for co-design and co-creation
  • Public arts installations with community engagement elements
  • Interactive musical or dance performances
  • New choral collaborations
  • Talent shows
  • Hands-on workshops
  • Free public classes and events

Funds may be used for salaries, benefits, contracted workers, project materials and equipment, reasonable overhead costs, and similar, necessary project expenses. Priority will be given to new projects but existing programs that have a track record of success are eligible for this opportunity.

Successful projects will:

  • Reach broad and diverse audiences, including those who may feel marginalized in their community
  • Engage people as participants, co-designers, and co-creators
  • Feature diverse artists as leaders and facilitators
  • Create a safe, inclusive environment for creative expression
  • Build new connections between neighbors
  • Foster trust, fun, and resilience

Guidance for Proposals

Letters of Interest should describe the project concept and the intended audience, as well as an explanation of how the project will create connection and belonging in the community. A budget estimate and draft project timeline are also required. LOIs that focus on planning for a future project that requires longer lead times or complex collaboration will be considered.

What We Don't Fund

  • Capital costs and campaigns
  • General operating support
  • Performance ticket subsidies or scholarships that are not directly connected to community-building work
  • Events and performances that do not have any components of audience or community participation
  • Debt reduction or deficit funding
  • Individuals (applicant should apply as part of a nonprofit organization, community group, municipality, or similar entity)
  • Expenses that have already been incurred
  • Programs with religious instruction
  • Indirect expenses unrelated to the project such as fiscal sponsor fees, rent, or financing costs.

Who May Apply

Eligible applicants must be nonprofit organizations, municipalities, or schools whose primary service area is in the state of Vermont. These might be arts organizations, libraries, museums, community centers, senior centers, youth programs, therapeutic programs, cultural organizations, or other entities. Projects without 501c3 status who have a fiscal sponsor are eligible.

We especially encourage LOIs from community-based organizations serving low-income youth, older adults, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ Vermonters, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

All applicants to programs at the Vermont Community Foundation must meet these guidelines.

Grant Size

The program will award grants up to $10,000. We intend to fund a range of project types and sizes in communities across the state with an average grant size of $5,000.

Letter of Interest Deadline & Notification

Update: We have pushed the LOI notification date by one week. Organizations will be notified regarding the status of their LOI by June 27.

LOIs will be accepted between May 15 and June 13, 2023. LOIs must be received by 5PM on Tuesday, June 13 to be considered. LOIs must be submitted electronically through the Foundation's Online Grants Manager (OGM); please see instructions below.

Following a review of all LOIs received, a smaller number of organizations will be invited to submit a full application for funding consideration. Organizations will be notified regarding the status of their LOI by June 27.

Application Deadline & Notification

Deadline Extension Update: We have pushed the application start date by two weeks; we will now be accepting applications between June 27 and August 1.

We anticipate inviting approximately 20 organizations to submit a full application.

Applications will be accepted between June 27 and August 1, 2023. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 1 to be considered. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions in mid September.

The grant term will be flexible. As an example, if the program or project you are applying for was scheduled to begin in early September, grant funds can now be backdated and used to support activities that take place before grant payment is received. We are also offering flexible grant terms and timelines as needed if the grant activities cannot start when originally anticipated due to the flooding events in mid-July 2023.

Letter of Interest & Application Process

All LOIs and applications must be submitted electronically. Visit our Online Grants Center page to learn how and to register for a new account. Or click here to access your existing account. You may contact the grants and community impact team at [email protected] or 802-388-3355 opt. 6 with any questions you have about the application process.

To help you prepare, click here to preview a sample of the LOI form; click here to preview a sample of the application. Please note that these are PDF samples and not the actual LOI or application. To view and begin working on the LOI and/or application, login to the Online Grants Manager (OGM), which can be accessed at vermontcf.org/OGM.