2023 Competitive Grant Round: Building Back Smarter

Communities across Vermont are facing the complex question of how – and where – to rebuild following this summer’s extreme flooding. Investing in our historic town and village centers is how we ensure accessible, affordable, and sustainable communities…but how do we ensure that smart growth is also safe and resilient?

To help build momentum toward flood resilient community development, VNRC’s Small Grants for Smart Growth program, in collaboration with Preservation Trust of Vermont, is launching a special competitive grant round to offer 1-3 awards of up to $5,000 for a community-driven project involving:

  • Community conversations or visioning;
  • Climate-smart planning or zoning; or 
  • Technical support for flood recovery or mitigation in community centers.

Projects must meet smart growth principles.

Preference will be given to:

  • Flood impacted communities;
  • Projects that address the needs of frontline communities and historically marginalized Vermonters; and,
  • Projects that will catalyze future efforts.

Applications are due Monday, January 15, 2024. Guidelines for this special grant round can be found here: 

  • What is eligible?

    Small Grants for Smart Growth provides seed money for catalyzing, community-based initiatives that are grounded in or help to support smart growth.

    Eligible applicants

    Local or multi-town entities, such as a municipality, municipal commission or committee; non-profit organization; or citizens group that is either working with a non-profit or seeking 501(c)(3) status. Applicants must be within the State of Vermont.

    Eligible activities

    Strengthening community resilience and/or adaptation to climate-related hazards through:

    • Advocacy for better land use 
    • Supporting housing choice and affordability in the reconstruction of flood-damaged communities;
    • Promoting downtown or village center revitalization; 
    • Public outreach and engagement; or
    • Development of strategies for resilient structures in flood prone areas.
    • What is not eligible?
      The following activities are ineligible for grant funding:
      • Lobbying or partisan activities
      • Land or building acquisition
      • Local municipal matching requirements
      • Capital improvements (signs, way-finding, construction projects, bike racks)
      • Equipment (e.g. computers, printers, vehicles). 
        Note: While wifi and software costs connected to specific smart growth projects may be eligible, Small Grants cannot be used to support baseline municipal infrastructure
      • Evaluation criteria
        The project or activities being proposed must:
        • Embody the vision of smart growth and meet multiple smart growth principles
        • Be inclusive in the engagement of the public, with focused efforts that enable access to a cross-section of community members, especially those who historically have not had access to public processes
        • Promote a healthy, just, safe, and sustainable community
        • Work towards a lasting solution to an identified problem or opportunity
        • Be able to be completed within a one-year time frame, and
        • Have a clear focus and concrete outcomes
      • How to apply

        Fill out the application form here.

        Applications for this special round of flood resilience funding are due by Monday, January 15, 2024.

        VNRC determines when the application is complete. As a condition of any grant, all activities are to be completed within the timeline given.  In addition, grant recipients agree to give VNRC permission to feature the project in its printed and electronic materials.  Where appropriate, grantees agree to note that the project is “Paid for with the assistance of the Small Grants for Smart Growth Fund of the Vermont Natural Resources Council.” Upon completion, a paragraph on the accomplishments, with illustrations if available, is to be submitted to VNRC who then forwards this on to the funder.

        If you are unable to access the application form, please submit a two page (maximum) statement that includes all of the following:

        • Name and contact information for the applicant
        • Amount requested and estimated budget
        • Overall project timeline
        • If this funding will be used for a portion of a larger project, clearly identify the portion of the project it will fund
        • Project description. The project description should include the following:
          • The problem or opportunity that the project is attempting to address
          • The outcomes that will result from your project
          • A brief description of how this funding will catalyze your project
          • How the project complies with the “eligible activities” listed above
          • How the project addresses the six evaluation criteria, including how the project advances smart growth principles



      The Small Grants for Smart Growth Program is made possible with assistance from the Humstone Family. Additional support for this special round of grants comes from Preservation Trust of Vermont.