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Increasing Municipal Grant Research and Writing Capacity

State and federal funding opportunities are unprecedentedly high right now, yet many municipalities lack the staffing or skill to pursue grants. What options do they have for finding grants that are appropriate for their needs and for writing applications that have a good chance of making the cut? 

  1. Use VLCT’s Federal Funding Assistance Program. This program helps members narrow the world of grant possibilities down to the ones that are most appropriate for their projects. Members can book appointments for one-on-one help to discuss ideas, a specific project, or other grant-related topics through our Consults on Call service as often as they want. During the consultation, a member describes their project, and VLCT staff ask questions that provide insights about which grants are suitable. VLCT follows up with a written report of applicable funding opportunities and other information. 

  1. Use volunteers or existing municipal staff. Are there community members that have research and writing skills? VLCT can coach them while they write the grant applications and can also review drafts of the applications. We have extensive experience with a variety of grants and have participated on many grant review committees. Regional Planning Commissions may review applications too. 

  1. Hire staff or a consultant on a per-hour basis for one-time or on-retainer services. Publish the job opportunity locally and through other outlets. Ask others what consultant they use or use the Vermont Community Development Program’s list of community development consultants. The Selectboard or Municipal Administrator/Manager usually directs projects to receive services.

  1. Share a grant researcher/writer with another municipality or organization. Craft a Memorandum of Agreement to formalize how the process of hiring, project selection, and payment will be accomplished. A Grants Committee consisting of members from participating organizations usually chooses projects to receive services. 

  1. Ask your Regional Planning Commission or Regional Development Corporation for assistance. Both RPCs and RDCs provide grant-related services, with and without a fee. Find the RPC and RDC that serve your municipality at and respectively. 

  1. Access the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s Rural Economic Development Initiative. This service works with municipalities that have populations of 5,000 or less. Projects must be community-based economic development, outdoor recreation, and working lands sector development. The program hires a consultant, who provides services for your project. Contact Mariah Noth at

  1. Apply for assistance through the Rural Infrastructure Assistance Program (RIAP). This new program funded by the Vermont legislature will serve communities that score 75 percent or higher on the Vermont Communities Index developed by the Agency of Administration. Municipalities can apply by responding directly to the Department of Buildings and General Services’ Request for Proposals by May 31, 2023 or use RIAP service providers who win contracts through that RFP. The Program funds assistance with grant or permit applications, satisfying initial regulatory requirements, project management, grant administration, and other capacity-building activities. The Program is expected to be active by June of 2023. 

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