VCRD’s Climate Catalyst Innovation Fund supports 25 local projects

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) announces the awardees for the third competitive round of the Climate Catalyst Innovation Fund. The funding supports projects that make a meaningful, community-scale impact. VCRD received more than $99,000 in requests and was able to fund 25 projects totaling $82,500 to support local climate solutions in Vermont.

In collaboration with generous funders including VLITE, VSECU, the Sunflower Fund, the Vermont Community Foundation Flood Recovery Fund, the Ruth H. Brown Foundation, and the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, VCRD is supporting local innovators in developing solutions that move Vermont closer to its climate and energy goals. 

Projects are practical and creative efforts that expand community resilience, reduce energy use, and create new approaches to challenging problems. Projects funded this year include a floodplain public food forest, developing frontline emergency preparedness kits, climate economy workforce training, and many more. 

This year, the Climate Catalyst Innovation Fund grew to $82,500 following the successful first two rounds. An interactive map is available to showcase recipients, location and project descriptions. Project outcomes and photos from the first round are available in the Climate Catalysts Innovation Fund 2021-2022 Report

“To date, this fund has awarded 68 local innovators with over $200,000 in collective support of community-led climate and energy projects,” said Laura Cavin Bailey, the Climate Economy Program Manager of VCRD. “This provides exciting opportunities to launch ideas into action at the community level.”

Climate Catalyst Innovation Fund award amounts range from $500 - $4,000, are selected by an outside panel of experts, and are based on demonstrating a mix of innovation, equity, replicability, collaboration, resilience, leverage, and meeting climate and energy goals. VCRD anticipates opening a new round of applications in the fall of 2024.

“ACORN is grateful for the opportunity to continue to develop a Farmer Climate Network in the Champlain Valley,” said ACORN’s Executive Director Lindsey Berk. “Thanks to VCRD's Climate Catalyst funding, we will be hosting on-farm winter working bees to build a resilient farmer network that is better prepared to mitigate the risks and adapt to the opportunities that a changing climate brings.” 

2023-2024 Project Recipients & Projects:

·        ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network) to create a farmer-led network for climate resilience

·        Bennington County Window Dressers to support the county-wide window insert build

·        Bottomless Well to build an off-grid retreat center for climate change artists and activists

·        Catamount Solar to put a business plan together and secure partners for a Community Solar project

·        Charlotte Library to install LED pedestrian crossing signs in the West Village of Charlotte

·        Community Resilience Organizations to convene the CROs cohort to debrief the relief phase, build personalized emergency preparedness kits and explore back-up energy solutions

·        Craftsbury Energy Committee to support the 2024 WindowDressers Insert Program

·        Edible Brattleboro to plant a mini food forest for public access to food and green space in a flood zone

·        Green Driving America to provide electric vehicle educational webinars to schools

·        Northeast Vermont Development Association (NVDA) to receive free online training in Solar Installation & Design for twenty Northeast Kingdom residents

·        Old Stone House Museum & Historic Village in Brownington to plant a publicly accessible 10-stem heritage tree garden featuring fruit, nut and flowering varieties

·        Orwell Free Library to replace the fluorescent light fixtures with LED light fixtures

·        Rich Earth Institute to develop and build efficiency upgrades to the Rich Earth farm applicator

·        Shelburne Climate & Energy Committee to promote heat pump education and awareness

·        SolarFest to build a shed for the new Brandon electric lawn and garden tool lending 'library' with possible solar for charging

·        St. Albans Free Library to purchase two E-bikes for the library Loan Program 

·        Stone's Throw Farmstead to build a climate resilient, passive solar greenhouse 

·        Sustainable Woodstock to promote electric lawn care

·        The Flower Basket to educate florists, growers, and foragers to increase the purchase of locally-grown flowers and locally-foraged materials

·        Town of Stowe Electric Department to host a design event with high school and college students alongside professional advisors for the restoration of the historic Seaver Sawmill 

·        Vermont Adult Learning (VAL) to pilot a merged curriculum that will provide linguistically accessible training in weatherization and heat pump installation to English Language Learners 

·        Vermont Community Solar Association to launch the new Vermont Community Solar Association, a network of supporters and creators with a mission of ensuring that all Vermonters have access to renewable electricity

·        WheelPad to partially fund the design of a new product, BathPAD: a small modular accessible bathroom to connect to a home 

·        White River Valley Window Dressers Community Build to support the regional window insert build

·        Winhall Energy Committee to install a web-accessible Energy Dashboard which publicly tracks and graphically displays monthly energy use at each of the five municipally owned buildings

To learn more visit https://www.vtrural.org/programs/model-communities/innovation or contact Laura Cavin Bailey at [email protected] or (802) 223-6091 with questions.

 Vermont Council on Rural Development

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of the locally-defined progress of Vermont's rural communities. VCRD is a dynamic partnership of federal, state, local, nonprofit and private partners. Actively non-partisan with an established reputation for community-based facilitation, VCRD is uniquely positioned to sponsor and coordinate collaborative efforts across governmental and organizational categories concerned with policy questions of rural importance. The organization has successfully completed over 90 community visits, resulting in locally defined projects like new childcare centers, wastewater infrastructure, and downtown redevelopments.

Source: 12.12.2023. Vermont Council on Rural Development vtrural.org

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