Three small organizations with big plans have been selected to receive Community Action Sponsorships from AARP Vermont to support their efforts to make Burlington a more livable city.  AARP Vermont launched the Community Action Sponsorship Program in 2010 as a way to provide modest grant funds and technical support to community groups whose missions were consistent with those of the Burlington Livable Community Project. This citywide collaborative project seeks to prepare Burlington for the rapidly aging demographic shift – particularly in the areas of housing, mobility and community engagement.

After a thorough review process, the following three projects were selected to receive $2000 each:

Vermont Bhutanese Association
Committee to Protect King Street Neighborhood
Burlington Accessibility Group

• The Vermont Bhutanese Association will use the funds to promote socialization and foster community connection for elderly members of Vermont’s fastest growing refugee group. The project centers on organizing community gatherings of Bhutanese to help address issues of loneliness, despair, and a sense of helplessness that often impact new arrivals to Vermont from other cultures.
• With plans for the Champlain Parkway moving ahead, there is are concerns around increasing traffic by 30% to an already economically disadvantaged neighborhood. Grant funding will be used to advocate for the re-routing of the proposed Parkway to avoid the King St. neighborhood.
• The Burlington Accessibility Group (BAG) seeks to improve accessibility in the Burlington downtown area for people with a range of disabilities. The focus of the grant initiative is on raising awareness of accessibility issues in general and improving an existing interactive website to collect information about accessibility within the local business community.  

The Community Action Sponsorships are one-time funding for a 12-month period and awardees will receive technical assistance and training from AARP staff.  The program is directed at grassroots groups within Burlington that seek to advocate or make specific improvements to make the city more livable.

“We are very pleased to extend support to these projects as a way to foster local community development initiatives,” said Greg Marchildon, state director at AARP Vermont.  “We received a broad range of proposals to consider this year and it was a difficult selection process,” he said. “These sponsorships are intended to inspire and support grassroots groups that have a vision for their neighborhood or the city and how it can be improved.”

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