Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont Office of Engagement, partnering with the UVM Extension Office, awarded four COVID Outreach Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grants to Vermont organizations to relieve the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We recognize that the degree and types of need in our communities is unprecedented and that most organizations are impacted in some way, and that UVM Extension has specific expertise and support to share,” according to Chris Koliba, executive director of the office. “We see these four successful proposals as tackling some of the challenges educators, public libraries and small farmers face in the state.”
The Office of Engagement was established earlier this year with funding from the Vermont State Legislature. This initiative is reinvesting that funding in Vermont communities by providing nearly $60,000 of support the following projects:
Maple Syrup Quality Education and Technical Assistance in the COVID Era. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused cancellation of important educational and networking events in the industry. This project will develop and distribute a “maple syrup quality remote learning kit” coupled with virtual syrup quality and syrup tasting sessions. The project will enhance the state’s strong reputation for maple products and provide a baseline quality standard for Vermont maple syrup producers.
Opening up: Expanding Vermont Public Library Patron Access and Safety. Gathering indoors presents a risk for the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but Vermont libraries are essential indoor operations. This project secures funding for air filtration and purification equipment. Following recommended science, the equipment will enable library spaces to be safer, fortifying other accepted practices in managing the spread of COVID-19. Funding will be distributed to 22 community libraries in nine Vermont counties.
Enhancing Predictive, Geo-informed COVID-19 Response Behavior with Push. This proposal will enhance the existing state databases including a color-coded map used by the VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) to inform the public about travel restrictions. This project will build on this existing platform by adding an enhanced outreach system using a web-based app that leverages the state’s open-source predictive model and underlying data. The result will be a “user push” method of information delivery, resulting in more active engagement and informed decision-making for travelers.
Support for Farm and Food Tourism Businesses Negatively Impacted by COVID-19. This project addresses pressing needs identified by small farmers and agrotourism businesses in the wake of the pandemic, including programs and promotions that will lead to increased sales of local products, hand-washing stations for visitors to use at farms and farmers markets, and support for understanding and implementing COVID-19 safety guidelines for visitors on farms. The project will help address concerns from farmers about where to go to get the answers, guidelines, and any permits needed to safely open farms to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UVM’s Office of Engagement serves as the “front door” to the university for private, public and non-profit entities and communities looking to access UVM’s many strengths and capabilities. The office also takes on the ambitious goal of directing UVM’s expertise towards community and economic development across the state. The office provides expertise in writing and submitting grant proposals, coordinating internships, attracting UVM alumni back to Vermont, provide workforce training, and positioning the university to collaborate with local enterprises to address economic development opportunities.
Source: BURLINGTON - The University of Vermont Office of Engagement 11.2.2020