Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President and CEO Eric Rosengren, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, and public and private funders announced eight regional teams have been selected to receive $15,000 planning grants and move forward in Vermont’s Working Communities Challenge. The challenge, launched last May, is a grant competition that supports local collaborative efforts to build strong, healthy economies and communities in Vermont’s rural towns, regions, and smaller cities.

Springfield Regional Development Corporation (SRDC) and the River Valley Technical Center (RVTC) were the co-applicants on behalf of a several regional partners in the Springfield region that received one of the 8 planning grants. The proposed project would address several factors involved in increasing the workforce participation and retention rate in the area.

The other regional teams selected include the Greater Barre, Lamoille County, Northeast Kingdom, Northwest Vermont, Southern Vermont, White River Valley, and Winooski teams. Each was selected by an independent jury after proposing initiatives designed to tackle issues in their communities ranging from workforce support to racial equity to economic inclusion.

Over the next six months, the grants will fund the teams’ work to turn their ideas into formal action plans. Four teams will then be chosen from the eight for larger, multi-year implementation awards – estimated to be $300,000 each – to fully execute their initiatives.

“This is an important milestone for the Working Communities Challenge in Vermont,” Rosengren said. “We are extremely grateful to Governor Scott, his administration, and our philanthropic and private sector partners for all they’ve done to help get us here.”

“We look forward to working with these eight community teams in the coming weeks and months as they refine their proposals with guidance from the Fed and other experts,” Rosengren said.

“It’s great to see Vermont communities collaborating together with a wide range of public and private partners to address complex issues to improve the future of Vermonters and make our state a better place to live,” Governor Scott said. “The Working Communities Challenge has given us another tool to help expand economic growth and opportunity in our rural towns and regions. I look forward to seeing these ideas progress as the teams and the Boston Fed move forward with the challenge.”

SRDC Executive Director Bob Flint and RVTC Superintendent/Director Scott Farr issued a joint statement on behalf of the local group of partners; “We are excited about the opportunity to pursue this project and appreciate the strong support from a great team of partners and organizations in the Springfield region.”

Funding for these grants and the broader competition is provided by the following organizations:

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation NeighborWorks America

Avangrid Foundation

State of Vermont

Northern Border Regional Commission

USDA/Northern Border Regional Commission

William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation

National Life Foundation

Vermont Community Foundation

TD Charitable Foundation

Green Mountain Power

Efficiency Vermont

Pomerleau Real Estate

People’s United

Vermont Energy Investment Corporation

Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc.

Northfield Savings Bank

Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU)

Housing Vermont

About the Working Communities Challenge

The Working Communities Challenge is built on Boston Fed research about why many of New England’s small cities have struggled economically over the past half-century. Boston Fed economists quickly discovered successful communities had something in common: leaders from the private business, public, and nonprofit sectors who collaborated on a shared, long-term vision for their community.

To help communities do this, the Boston Fed partnered with New England states to launch a competition that aimed to support diverse, local, collaborative leadership teams as they tackled complex issues within their communities. The challenge includes funding to accelerate promising local work, with a focus on increased economic opportunities for residents.

The competition began in smaller, post-industrial cities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Now, the Boston Fed and Vermont leaders are adapting the competition model to the needs of rural towns, regions, and smaller cities in northern New England.