The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) announces the awardees for the second competitive round of the Climate Catalyst Innovation Fund. The funding supports projects that make a meaningful, community-scale impact. Of the 37 applications that totaled more than $118,000 in requests, VCRD was able to fully fund 25 project requests totaling over $82,000 to support local climate solutions in Vermont

In collaboration with generous funders including VLITE, VSECU, the Sunflower Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation and others, 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 reduce energy use, save communities money, and create new approaches to challenging problems. Projects funded this year include a farmer-led network hosting regular climate-focused events, a library resilience center energy system, climate economy workforce training, and many more.   This year, the Climate Catalyst Innovation Fund grew to $82,000 following the successful initial round in 2021, which awarded $35,000 to 18 projects out of 29 applications. An interactive map is available to showcase recipients, locations, and project descriptions. Project outcomes and photos from the first round are available in the Climate Catalysts Innovation Fund 2021-2022 Report.

“VCRD believes in listening carefully to the ideas of local leaders and connecting those leaders and ideas with resources that can help advance ideas to projects and projects to completion,” said Brian Lowe, Executive Director of VCRD. “This competitive program focuses on community-scale innovations, and the accumulation of these local actions – each reflecting the particular context of a town or area of Vermont – becomes an important way to address complex challenges like climate change.”

Climate Catalyst Innovation Fund award amounts range from $500 – $4,000, are selected by VCRD and an outside panel of experts and are based on demonstrating a mix of innovation, collaboration, and replicability, while also addressing Vermonters in need. VCRD anticipates opening a new round of applications in the late summer of 2023, subject to funding availability.

2022-2023 Project Recipients & Projects:

  • ACORN/ Addison County Relocalization Network, farmer-led climate-focused events
  • Bradford Energy Committee, Window Dressers weatherization
  • Brandon Energy Committee, library e-bikes for loan
  • BurnRight Vermont, education around clean wood burning
  • Cavendish Energy Committee, recycling awareness
  • Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, regional approach to weatherization
  • Climate Economy Action Center of Addison County, supporting Climate Action Teams
  • Craftsbury Public Library, community resilience center energy system
  • Glover Energy Committee, library e-bikes for loan
  • Green Driving America Inc., education to new drivers on low- to zero-emission vehicles
  • Guilford Energy Committee, library e-bikes for loan
  • Hartford Energy Commission, climate workforce development
  • Kimball Wellness Association, solar power for a mobile wellness clinic
  • Lincoln Library, sun pavilion and pollinator garden
  • Northfield Energy Committee, install a public EV charging station
  • Shelburne Climate Action Working Group, Window Dressers weatherization
  • SolarFest, weatherization initiatives
  • The Bike Hub, refurbish bicycles and safety supplies for community members
  • The Universalist Unitarian Congregation of St. Johnsbury, weatherization
  • Town Of Sheffield, town solar array
  • Town of Stowe Electric Department, Window Dressers and renewable energy education
  • Town of Williston Energy Committee, community outreach for fuel switching and weatherization
  • Vermont Natural Forest Products, update and automate a heating pellet mill
  • Village Of Enosburg, install a public EV charging station

Sam Lash, Climate & Energy Planner for the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission and 2022-2023 recipient says, “The Climate Catalysts Innovation Fund has done a tremendous job filling the gap of direct implementation funds accessible at the community level. VCRD remains absolutely critical to our towns’ implementation efforts and we look forward to sharing our growing successes.”

Visit the VCRD website to learn more or contact Laura Cavin Bailey at [email protected] or (802) 223-6091 with questions.