VOREC Community Grant Program

In the foreground two people are walking on a trail through the woods in autumn. Yellow leaves can be seen in the tree canopy and large rocks line the path in the background.The Vermont Outdoor Recreation Communities pilot grant program was established in 2018 when the Vermont legislature passed Act 194. Grant funding can be used for a variety of purposes with the result being a community(ies) that can show measurable success supporting and growing their local economies through leveraging outdoor recreation. 

The program is closely tied to the five pillars, or goals, of the VOREC steering committee which are to: 

  • Grow outdoor recreation-related businesses.
  • Increase participation in outdoor recreation activities among all demographics.
  • Strengthen the quality and extent of outdoor recreation resources.
  • Increase stewardship of outdoor recreation resources and environmental quality.
  • Promote and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation.

Recognizing the wonderful variety and complexity of Vermont’s existing outdoor recreation infrastructure, assets, and use, it is important to note that outdoor recreation is defined by VOREC and the community grant program as leisure, sport and therapeutic recreation activities pursued outdoors, mainly in a natural setting. Outdoor Recreation encompasses a wide scope of potential activities and the role of VOREC and the grant program is to elevate the knowledge base and potential of traditional and growing outdoor recreation activities. 

Inclusion, openness, and innovation are fundamental principles of VOREC and we encourage creative and collaborative approaches. If you have a project idea and are unsure if it would qualify for a VOREC Community grant, please reach out to program staff who can help guide you. 

2021 Program

Program Update 10.15.21 -

The deadline for full applications has shifted to Monday, November 29. See the 2021 Program Deadlines section for more details.   

This year the VOREC Community Grant Program is implementing a 2-step Letter of Interest (LOI) and application process. Qualified applicants are asked to indicate their interest by using the letter of interest form, linked below, to submit their project idea. If you are unable to access the linked form, please reach out to program staff who can email you a Microsoft Word version or mail you a physical copy. 

Filling out this Letter of Interest (LOI) form is the first step in our grant application process and will begin a dialogue with grant program staff about your project idea. As staff review LOIs they may follow-up with you to provide feedback on your project idea and share suggestions for strengthening your application, which might include building partnerships with other interested applicants. 

This year, the grant program has $5,100,000 to help Vermont communities fully leverage their natural outdoor recreation assets. VOREC aims to fund up to 25 projects across the state and is looking for projects that include regional/multi-community efforts, local/smaller efforts, diversity & equity work, and state engaged economic impact studies. Grant minimums are set at $50,000 with no maximum. 

Use the links below to navigate to specific information. 

  1. Make sure your project meets these criteria
  2. Stay up to date on the latest FAQ information (updated 8.20.21)
  3. Join the conversation!
  4. Understand key deadlines (updated on 10.15.21)
  5. Submit your Letter of Interest. 

Note: The deadline to submit a letter of interest was Friday, August 27 2021 at 5 p.m. The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is not accepting new applications at this time. 

Join the Conversation!

In addition to submitting your LOI, you are invited to join program staff for a series of virtual meetings in July and August 2021. Meetings will be opportunities for you to ask questions of program staff and learn about other applicant ideas. 

2021 Outdoor Recreation Grant Funding Information Meeting

This meeting was held on Monday, July 19 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. During the meeting staff from the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation shared detailed information about the VOREC Community Grant Program and Enhancement of Recreational Stewardship and Access (ERSA) Trail Grant Program. They also responded to questions shared by perspective applicants. ​

  • Review the meeting presentation slides
  • Watch the recording - Welcome from Commissioner Snyder (0:13:56). Review of Key deadlines (00:20:15). Review of VOREC Community Grant Program (00:22:50). Review of ERSA Trail Grant Program (00:39:34). Supplemental application documents review (00:49:53). Q&A discussion begins (00:52:16). 
VCGP Application Development Meetings

These meetings were held as opportunities for interested applicants to strengthen their VOREC Community Grant Program applications. The agenda for both meetings was the same. applicants had an opportunity to hear from eachother, learn more about the letter of interest and how it will be reviewed, and learn about key elements of the full application to start thinking about now ahead of an invitation to fill out a full application. Meetings were recorded and are linked below for those who could not attend.  

Application Development Meeting #1 - Held on Tuesday, August 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Application Development Meeting #2 - Held on Tuesday, August 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

2021 Program Deadlines

Application deadlines

  • Friday, August 27 - Letters of Interest due by 5 p.m. 
  • Week of October 4 (updated) - FPR invites applicants with eligible projects to submit a full application.  Only those invited may submit a full grant application.   
  • Monday, November 29 (updated- Full application due by 5 p.m.

Ranking Meeting and (tentative) Grant Announcement Schedule

  • Week of December 13, 2021 – Grant Ranking Committee Meeting 
  • Week of December 20, 2021 – Grant Recommendations given to Commissioner 
  • Week of January 10, 2022 – Grant Award announcements 
  • February – March – Grant Agreements Prepared 
  • April – Grants Fully Executed 

Application requirements

Applicants must establish a dedicated project team which includes a broad range of stakeholder representation (e.g. municipal staff/volunteers, education, businesses, RPCs, RDCs, outdoor recreation, social justice or environmental organizations).

Who is eligible to be the “lead” applicant

  • Municipal entities  
    • Preferential consideration will be given to municipalities that are a state designated downtown or designated village center.

    • A consortium of municipalities is also welcome to apply. Consortiums must designate a “Sponsoring Municipality” in the application. The sponsoring municipality will be the team lead and fiscal agent.

  • Non-profit organizations 
    • Must demonstrate community support and include municipal team member(s)
    • Must be nonprofits with missions compatible with VOREC (recreation, conservation, trails, health among others)

Project Eligibility

Eligible activities include 

  • Wayfinding & Interpretation: Public access improvements including maps and/or other informational materials.
  • Environmental Stewardship: Program or material needs related to environmental quality and stewardship of recreation assets.
  • Recreational Programming: Program, material, or equipment support for existing or new outdoor recreation events and programs.
  • Land Acquisition: Acquisitions are limited to municipalities (ex. Buying/conserving a town forest).  
  • Capital Projects: Signage/kiosks/maps, or small scale/leveraged outdoor recreation infrastructure improvements.
  • Community Marketing: Marketing activities (a percentage of a project/the program).
  • Community Planning: Planning activities, including assessments or and/or mapping (a percentage of a project/the program; application cannot be for planning only). 
  • Administrative Support: Administrative activities (a percentage of a project/the program).

Eligible expenses include 
Lead applicants will be required to pay project costs up front and request re-imbursement from grant staff

  • Services of consultants, subgrantees and technical assistance providers
  • Outdoor recreation infrastructure improvements
  • Material or equipment to support outdoor recreation programs
  • Printing, website development, and event support
  • Securing public access through the acquisition of land, easements, or rights-of-way

Ineligible activities and expenses

  • Standalone planning: planning done without any implementation elements
  • Political activities 
  • Expenses incurred before April 17, 2021 when funds for community grants became available
  • Alcohol or entertainment expenses
  • Regular/annual maintenance projects (unless substantial redevelopment)
  • Projects on state lands

Project Preparedness

Applicants must demonstrate they 

  • Have completed some prior planning and mapping of outdoor recreation assets. 
  • Have identified outdoor recreation as a component of their local economy through a local, regional, or statewide planning effort (town, regional, recreation plans, etc.).
  • Have dedicated staff and/or volunteer capacity to ensure long-term success of project.
  • Have a clear plan for stewardship of outdoor recreation resources.

Contact Information

For more information about the VOREC Community Grant Program please contact: Jackie Dagger, VOREC Program Manager, Vermont Department of Forests Parks and Recreation and Agency of Commerce and Community Development, 1 National Life Drive, Davis 2, Montpelier, VT 05620-3801 Tel: 802-636-7410 or Email: jackie.dagger@vermont.gov

DOCUMENTS

FAQs Document (Updated 8.20.21) 

VT Sports: Explore VT From These 8 New Basecamps (See "What the VOREC Grant Will Do" sections for examples of past projects) 

2021 Community Grant Program Reccommendations

 

 

 

 

Becca Washburn

Director of Lands Administration and Recreation
1 National Life Dr, Davis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620
(802) 793-3432
becca.washburn@vermont.gov