Unleashing the power of Vermonters to create a better future!

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 import.

Since its inception in 1992, VCRD has built a profile of rural policy leadership that is grounded by work in local communities and extends to collaborative partnerships with the highest levels of state and federal programs.

Mission Statement

The Vermont Council on Rural Development helps Vermont citizens build prosperous and resilient communities through democratic engagement, marshalling resources, and collective action.


Our Vision for Vermont

VCRD works toward a future for Vermont in which its:

  • communities are healthy and resilient;
  • economy is innovative and vibrant;
  • citizens are engaged in community-building and governance, working closely with their neighbors;
  • communities attract youth, entrepreneurs, and healthy diversity;
  • young citizens are fully prepared to contribute to their communities and participate successfully in a changing economy;
  • rural character and open lands are conserved and managed productively and profitably;
  • communities, businesses and citizens prosper by designing and building economic solutions to climate change; and
  • communities serve as models for other communities throughout rural America.

Our Vision for VCRD

We are a dynamic partnership of national, state, and local non-profit, government and business leaders that are positioned to initiate and inform local and statewide inquiries and strategies regarding the vital issues facing Vermont and its communities.

We build open dialogues that strengthen democracy, respect local leadership and decision-making, and honor the uniqueness of each Vermont community;

We convene nimble, open, and creative venues in which citizens feel empowered to contribute their dreams, goals and strategies for Vermont and their communities.

We act as an effective communicator, a strong voice for progress, and a dedicated proponent for community and economic development in Vermont.

We lead by identifying policy needs and priorities and we convene public and private leadership to catalyze strategic solutions and actions to advance them.

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Commitment

At the Vermont Council on Rural Development, our mission has always been to bring together all Vermonters to build a prosperous and resilient future. In order to carry out this work effectively, we continuously evaluate our internal biases and adjust our practices, systems, and strategies to best serve all Vermonters regardless of how they identify themselves.

Fundamental to this is our commitment to dismantle barriers to universal participation, engagement, and leadership in our communities. Democratic decision-making and civic engagement are only as strong as the depth and equity of the participation they are built upon. Collective commitment to deep engagement, equitable access, countering internal bias and developing inclusive processes and systems is key to the future strength and vitality of our communities and our state.

We commit ourselves to the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. These values are central to our mission, culture, and vision internally, in our work with communities, and across the full breadth of our programs. We acknowledge that Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color (BIPOC) have long faced and continue to face historic and systemic barriers of racism which impede or exclude them from civic participation, decision-making, and equal and fair educational and economic opportunity. Additionally, we recognize that Vermont and Vermonters have much work to do to evaluate our individual attitudes and privilege; to work together now and in an ongoing way to dismantle systemic racism; and to re-invent and expand our collective identity. VCRD’s Statement on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (pdf).

Core Operating Principles:

  • We recognize the validity and importance of the lived experience of all Vermonters. We recognize, respect, and value all voices as equal contributors to the future.
  • We envision a future Vermont that is a safe and welcoming home for all people, where multiple cultures can co-exist and be celebrated, where our collective diversity fosters creativity and innovation, and where equitable social and economic opportunities exist for all Vermonters.
  • We join forces with all who work to dismantle white supremacy and systemic racism and dedicate ourselves to work for an inclusive, equitable, and ultimately stronger future.
  • We appreciate that Vermont is a more vibrant, healthy, and prosperous place when we acknowledge and welcome Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color as fully engaged members and leaders of our communities.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development commits to:

  • Diversifying our Staff, Board, and Partnerships: Continually assessing the composition of our staff, Board membership, and network of partners to ensure they are reflective of our commitment to justice, equity, inclusion and diversity.
  • Addressing Statewide Barriers: Working with local, regional, and state partners to support and advance policies and systemic changes that break down barriers and systemic disadvantages to opportunities, resources, and participation.
  • Improving our Community and Program Outreach: Dedicating time, energy, and resources to targeted outreach, invitation, and support to build inclusive and equitable community processes that actively engage historically excluded populations in deliberation, decision-making and leadership.
  • Advancing Inclusion and Equity in our Internal Systems and Structures: Evaluating our internal systems and practices to ensure that they are inclusive and equitable, and that all staff and Board members feel included, engaged, and connected to our work.
  • Supporting Vermont Communities: Identifying and developing resources and support for communities and leaders working to develop systems and structures to improve inclusive and equitable engagement and decision-making.
  • Listening and Learning: Listening carefully and openly to our BIPOC neighbors, partners, and community members to deepen our understanding of the range of BIPOC experiences across Vermont. Constantly reevaluating and making adjustments to our programs, services, partnerships, and operations to ensure we are integrating these needs and experiences into all of our decision-making, planning, budgeting and practices.

How We Work

From community centered initiatives that build upon local, citizen based efforts, to policy councils that build collaboration between state, federal, nonprofit, and private sector leaders, VCRD has designed and implemented highly effective programming to identify and address key issues that impact rural life. VCRD is a neutral, nonprofit organization that brings Vermonters together across political lines and organizational boundaries to advance rural community and economic development throughout the state.

VCRD has developed a portfolio of community and policy action that includes:

  • 21 years of town-by-town community development strategic planning;
  • 8 Governor’s Summits retreats, 10 statewide Rural Summit conferences, 3 national Rural Policy convenings;
  • Policy council initiatives on agricultural viability, value added forest products development, the creative economy, the structure of the planning system, in-state energy development, the future of Vermont, advancing the Vermont working landscape, and advancing Vermont’s Climate Change Economy;
  • Strategic planning guidance to initiate creative economy plans in 12 cities and towns; and
  • Facilitating over 50 town-wide assessment and aggregation projects to acquire broadband access.

VCRD has built a reputation for integrity as a neutral, non-partisan mediator of public processes, setting the framework for decisions by communities and by policy leaders, that lead to direct and practical results in addressing fundamental challenges at the local and state level. For information about how VCRD can work with your community, contact us at 802-223-6091.