Vermont Early Childhood Fund

The Vermont Early Childhood Fund (VECF) is a Building Bright Futures (BBF) program. VECF supports creative solutions that will improve the well-being of children from the prenatal period to age 8, their families, and the Vermont communities where they live. 

Grant award notifications for fall 2023 applicants will be made in mid-December, and the program period will be Feb. 1 through Dec. 31, 2024.
The next round of applications will be accepted during spring 2024.



VECF was established in 2021 thanks to a generous grant from a private donor. Thanks to the Sunflower Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation, VECF was able to continue in 2022 and 2023. Since it began, VECF has distributed nearly $200,000 to 14 organizations addressing a variety of needs throughout Vermont.

In late 2022, Vermont was awarded a $23 million federal grant to strengthen the state’s early childhood system, support the early childhood workforce, and improve the quality and availability of services for family and children from prenatal to age 8. The Vermont Integration Project: Building Integration in Vermont’s Birth-5 Early Childhood Systems (VIP B-5) will provide a total of $6 million in subgrants over a three-year period to local communities. 

BBF will administer the subgrant program through VECF. Awards made through the Fund will address the gaps and opportunities outlined in the 2020 Early Childhood Needs Assessment and align with the goals laid out in the Vermont Early Childhood Action Plan (VECAP).

Goal 1:  All children have a healthy start.
Goal 2:  Family and community play a leading role in children’s well-being.
Goal 3:  All children and families have access to high-quality opportunities that meet their needs.
Goal 4:  The early childhood system will be integrated, well-resourced, and data-informed.


General Information

BBF opened the application process for two grant programs on September 29, 2023. Applications are due by Friday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m. The VECF Opportunity Grant will provide one-time funding ranging from $10,000 to $80,000 to about 20 recipients, with the goal of supporting easy-to-achieve solutions with direct results. The VECF Innovation Grant will provide up to two grants of $150,000 to $200,000, with the goal of creating innovative, replicable solutions to address some of Vermont’s most persistent barriers to serving children and families. Innovation Grants will have the possibility of renewed funding in 2024 and 2025. The first round of funding will distribute $1.1 million to support Vermont’s early childhood system. Additional rounds of grants will be made in 2024 and 2025. Grants are open to nonprofits, businesses, municipalities, and schools. To be eligible, projects will focus on families and children from the prenatal period to age 8.

2023 Vermont Early Childhood Fund Grantees

In 2022, BBF funded seven VECF grantees for 2023 (a total of $105,000):

Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation
Brattleboro, VT

Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth throughout Southeastern Vermont. BDCC will use grant funds to develop a culturally-tailored career pathway for immigrants living in Southeastern Vermont to enter the early childhood education (ECE) field. This pathway will draw on the expertise of English Language Learning experts, ECE partners, adult educators, and the area’s refugee resettlement organization. The goal is to support at least four New Americans to engage in ECE training (certificate or degree programs) before the end of 2023. 

Dad Guild
Chittenden County, VT

Dad Guild is a nonprofit whose mission is to support and empower fathers by offering opportunities for connection, education, and community engagement. Using VECF grant funds, Dad Guild will increase its engagement with Black and LGBTQ+ masculine-identifying/nonbinary caregivers by:

  • Consulting with experts on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work
  • Identifying 10 coalition members from Black and LGBTQ+ communities
  • Forming ongoing coalition groups that meet monthly for 10 months to provide Dad Guild with feedback about how the organization is doing in regards to inclusivity, and help gather data and information in terms of what caregiver support may be needed, what the barriers for participation may be, what already exists, etc.
  • Developing and implementing programs/events for Black and LGBTQ+ dads/caregivers, based on information gathered from the coalition groups

Family Center of Washington County
Montpelier, VT

The Family Center of Washington County’s Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) Early Intervention Program will use VECF funds to purchase vision and hearing screening equipment, as well as to train staff to conduct vision and hearing screenings for children referred to CIS in Washington County and Orange North. The screenings will be given to children from ages 0 to 3 and will occur in the child’s natural environment where they feel most comfortable. Then the children will be re-checked at their annual evaluation or sooner if necessary. Further assessment by ophthalmology and/or audiology providers will be provided as needed, based on the child’s developmental delay/diagnosis.

Lamoille Family Center
Morrisville, VT

Lamoille Family Center’s Children’s Integrated Services (CIS) Early Intervention Program will use VECF funds to purchase equipment and training for vision and hearing screenings, making it possible for all children ages 6 months to 8 years in Lamoille Valley to be screened for vision and hearing loss. In addition to the families served by Lamoille Family Center, the CIS program will make the equipment available to 50 local child care providers and three supervisory unions.

Little Patakha
Springfield Area, VT

Little Patakha is a children’s brand that offers books, games, puzzles and other engaging media to promote inclusion and shatter stereotypes through diverse representation. The company is partnering with the Springfield Area Regional Council to host five online workshops for early educators about the importance of representation in children’s media and how this relates to children’s developmental stages. In addition, the grant project will make 800 Little Patakha items available for free to Upper Valley preschools, child cares, libraries, and home-based child care centers. The four products that will be distributed all help boost representation in children’s media:

  • A unique mix-and-match jigsaw puzzle helps kids look beyond stereotypes when it comes to what profession they can choose when they grow up. 
  • Affirmation cards are printed with messages such as “I am remarkable,” “I am a good friend,” and “I am patient.” 
  • A children’s book offers an introduction to Konkani, a South Indian language that until recently had no script of its own.
  • Another children’s book provides an introduction to Hindi, the language most associated with India. 

Mount Snow Child Care
Dover, VT

Mount Snow Child Care is a community-based early education program that serves a diverse population of children and families in the greater Deerfield Valley area, ages 6 weeks through 6 years old. With VECF funding, the center will offer a series of professional development to its staff, and other early childhood educators working in the Deerfield Valley area, on topics that relate to issues that impact mental health and well-being. Some of the topics that have been requested include American Sign Language (ASL) training to help support diverse learners, identification and support of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), anti-bias training, and trauma-informed care. Mount Snow Child Care will also host two free events for families to learn about helpful supports and services available for them in the region, as well as to learn specific parenting skills. 

Northeast Kingdom Community Action
Newport, VT

Northeast Kingdom Community Action (NEKCA) is a nonprofit addressing poverty through education, community collaborations, and community action. The nonprofit is responsible for coordination and fiscal management for Northeast Kingdom Children Integrated Services (NEK CIS), which provides Early Intervention, Strong Families Vermont Home Visiting, early childhood and family mental health, and specialized child care services that are family-centered and prevention-focused. NEK CIS will use the VECF grant funds to provide three free trainings and consultations to early childhood educators to grow the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to serve and support young children and families who have experienced trauma and toxic stress. This will be in partnership with Northeastern Family Institute, VT (NFI VT), a leader in statewide training and consultation.

Questions? Contact VECF Grant Manager Michelle Kersey.

Headshot of Michelle Kersey

Michelle Kersey

Vermont Early Childhood Fund Grant Manager

Michelle Kersey is thrilled to join the Building Bright Futures team as the Vermont Early Childhood Fund Grant Manager. She comes with more than two decades of fundraising experience and looks forward to using her understanding of the grant application process to create a strong program for BBF. Most recently, she has worked for a nonprofit affordable housing organization, raising funds to help create homes and provide housing-based services for community members with low and moderate incomes. She started her professional fundraising career at the Montshire Museum of Science, where she enjoyed the sounds of joyful children exploring hands-on science exhibits.

Michelle is passionate about social justice and ensuring equitable access to resources for everyone. Recognizing the impacts of social drivers, she is excited about helping to improve the well-being of children and their families throughout Vermont.

Michelle holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College, and serves on the Steering Committee of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, fishing, mowing the lawn, and renovating a home in Chelsea with her partner John.

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