Governor Phil Scott and the Office of Racial Equity promoted a new state initiative that encourages and supports municipalities across the state in their efforts to be more inclusive, equitable and welcoming.
IDEAL Vermont, which stands for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action and Leadership, officially kicked off in October with its first fourteen member towns and cities: Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Essex, Fairfax, Hardwick, Hartford, Hinesburg, Orange, St. Albans, South Burlington, Richmond, Tinmouth and Winooski.
“This initiative has many benefits for the state, both from a moral obligation to make sure all are welcome and treated equitably in Vermont, and to build a stronger economy long into the future,” said Governor Phil Scott. “A Vermont that welcomes new families, and respects and celebrates the differences among current Vermonters, is critical to making sure we have the safe, healthy and prosperous future we want for all Vermont towns, cities and villages.”
This initiative is building a coalition of Vermont municipalities dedicated to advancing racial and other forms of equity across the state through collaboration, shared knowledge, peer support and more. The Office of Racial Equity supports this effort by bringing this coalition together and providing technical assistance. In addition to the peer support and collaboration, member municipalities committed to this effort are eligible to apply for small grants, supported through the Vermont Community Foundation.
“The state is committed to making Vermont more equitable, but there is a lot of necessary action that uniquely sits with municipalities,” said Xusana Davis, Executive Director of the Office of Racial Equity. “IDEAL Vermont is designed to bridge state and local efforts for transformative, structured, and non-performative progress.”
IDEAL will build on energy and efforts already underway, with municipalities around the state having recognized the need to prioritize equity and social justice. Already, dozens of Vermont’s communities have taken steps to be more inclusive, with at least 79 municipalities having adopted a Declaration of Inclusion as of November 2022 and 14 municipalities represented on the Equity Committee of the Vermont League of Cities & Towns (VLCT).
Funding proposed by Governor Scott and supported by the Legislature in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget, along with financial support from the Vermont Community Foundation, helped launch the program this year. Additionally, the program has support from community partners including VLCT, the Vermont Council on Rural Development, the Vermont Declaration of Inclusion and Abundant Sun.
For more information, visit the IDEAL Vermont website: https://racialequity.vermont.gov/ideal-vermont.