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Thursday, July 21, 2022

About the VLCT Welcoming and Engaging Communities Cohort

The VLCT Welcoming and Engaging Communities Cohort is a partnership with Abundant Sun, a Vermont cultural transformation consultancy,  that offers municipal leaders participation in the firm’s Ethical Performance Improvement Campaign (E.P.I.C.). The E.P.I.C. Journey is a strategic methodology based on data and science aimed at catalyzing organizations to build better cultures from within. Participants will join about a dozen Vermont municipalities on a six-month journey including eight two-hour virtual workshops on topics that include “Equality, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion,” “Employee Engagement & Client Service,” and “Data Analytics & Building Strategy”. The sessions are paired with an opportunity for municipalities to collect key inclusion and belonging metrics by surveying elected officials, appointed officials, and paid staff. 

VLCT will fund up to 15 member municipalities’ participation in the Welcoming and Engaging Communities Cohort. The cohort program is akin to “cultural transformation 101” aimed at helping communities enhance their equity journey. Each selected municipality will be asked to enroll two municipal officials to the cohort. Eligible officials who can enroll in the cohort include members of a municipality’s legislative body (city council, selectboard, trustees), a city or town manager or town administrator, a mayor, or a clerk. Please note that at least one of the cohort participants from each municipality must NOT be on the ballot in March of 2023 to ensure continuity.

How to Apply:

To apply, a municipality should send an email of interest to requesting an application. VLCT will then share a link to an application portal where a representative of the municipality will complete an application.

Applications are due by the close of business on Friday, August 26, 2022.

Applications are to include:

  1. A letter of interest signed by a majority of the municipal legislative body that expresses an interest in and commitment to participating in the cohort.
  2. The answers to four questions:
    1. Why does your municipality want to join the “VLCT Welcoming Communities Cohort”? 
    2. What does your municipality hope to achieve by participating in the cohort?
    3. What efforts related to equity has your community already undertaken?
    4. What obstacles do you foresee impeding your ability to create a more welcoming culture in your municipal workplace and in your community?
  3. The names, positions and email addresses of the two municipal officials who will be participating in the cohort.  (Eligible participants include mayors, city councilors, selectboard members, village trustees, town managers and administrators, and clerks). The officials must have agreed to participate in the cohort before the application is submitted. Enrollees will be required to attend the first in-person cohort meeting on Friday, October 7, at VLCT’s Town Fair. In addition, enrollees will participate in seven virtual two-hour E.P.I.C. Education workshops between October 2022 and April 2023. 
  4. The number of elected and appointed officials, staff, and volunteer positions (such as planning commission members) in the municipality.  This information will be necessary for the data collection portion of the cohort.

Selection Process

The VLCT Equity Committee will review applications and recommend participants to the VLCT Executive Director. Municipalities will be notified of their selection by September 22, 2022.  The first meeting of the cohort – and only in-person meeting – will occur at Town Fair in Killington, Vermont, on Friday, October 7, 2022.


Program Announcement:             July 22, 2022
Application Deadline:                    August 26, 2022
Notification of Selection:              September 22, 2022
First Cohort Meeting:                    October 7, 2022
Data Collection:                             November & December 2022
Cohort Meetings:                           January – April 2023


What is the cost of the program?

VLCT is including this program as a free service to members. The only cost a member would likely incur is registration for Town Fair 2022 in Killington, Vermont, on October 7th. 

What officials may participate in the program?

Each municipality must select two municipal officials to participate in the program. Eligible participants include mayors, city councilors, selectboard members, village trustees, town managers and administrators, and clerks. Please note that at least one of the cohort participants from each municipality must NOT be on the ballot in March of 2023 to ensure continuity.

What is the time commitment?

Over the six months of the program, participants will be asked to attend eight two-hour sessions.  The first will be an in-person session at Town Fair in Killington.  All participants must attend this introductory session. The remaining seven sessions will occur using remote technology. We anticipate the majority of the sessions will occur every other week from January-April 2023.  Participants will also be asked to help distribute a survey to all municipal elected officials, appointed officials, volunteers (such as committee/commission members), and staff.  Participants should plan to report back to their legislative bodies about the content of the program.

How do I apply?

A representative from the municipality should send an email to requesting an application. VLCT will then send the representative a link to the application portal.