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The Village Trust Initiative

Your village is an essential part of both your community, Vermont’s identity, and its future. The Village Trust Initiative is a new program offering expertise and funding to help 20 small towns create or bolster a local community trust organization and take on a transformational revitalization project in the village. These projects could be the revitalization of a general store, the creation of a community center, improvement of accessibility of an old town hall, or renovation of a large historic home into village-scale housing. There are many possibilities, so bring your creativity and vision to the table! 

The Village Trust Initiative is offered by the Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV) in partnership with the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) and the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF). Drawing on many years of experience supporting community and economic development projects in Vermont, together these partners will:  

  • Facilitate the development of a new or existing community trust organization, a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission focused on the vitality of the community, to lead the implementation of the project. You may have an existing community trust or be a formal or informal group of people interested in forming a community trust organization. You can learn more about community trust organizations here: What is a Community Trust?
  • Support robust community engagement and project prioritization.
  • Provide technical assistance support for the pre-development work such as permitting, feasibility, engineering, design, and more.
  • Provide initial funding and help assemble other funding sources for the construction phase of your project. 

To participate in this program your community must:

  • Be a town of fewer than 2,500 residents based on the 2020 Decennial Census.
  • Have an existing community trust organization or the desire to build one.
  • Be interested in a revitalization project utilizing a historic resource or site in an established village environment. Greenspace and trails are not eligible.
  • Have or expect to have site control.
  • Have or expect to have endorsement by the Selectboard to participate in the program (a motion in Selectboard meeting minutes or a letter indicating support).

Communities that will be most successful in this program may also have: 

  • An identified community need and demonstrated community support for the project.
  • An identified building or site in the Village that could meet the identified need.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Does our potential project building have to be historic (constructed before 1974)? Not necessarily. We really love old buildings, but we understand that community revitalization takes many shapes and forms. We encourage you to share your project with us and we can discuss the building or site. Competitive projects will need to demonstrate how the project impacts village vitality.

Does our historic structure or site have to be within a designated Village Center? No. However, designation can be helpful to the success of the project. Participation in the Village Trust Initiative could provide connection to support and resources to explore and access designation. All projects must be situated within the established built environment of your village.

Does our historic building need to be on the National Register of Historic Places? No, the building does not need to be eligible or listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Can VTI implementation funds support the purchase of the historic structure or site for our project? No. VTI funds cannot be used for acquisition of a parcel or property.

What do you mean by site control? Site control means that the community trust organization must either own the building OR have a long-term and well documented lease recorded in the Town land records. Applicants may also have a clear path towards site control at the time of application. If you have questions about site control contact us.

Should we move quickly and purchase a building or site in anticipation of this project and needing site control? No. Please do not move forward on purchasing a building or site until you have connected with a PTV staff member, however you may still complete the intake form.

What sort of technical assistance is provided for project development and design? PTV has pre-approved firms that work in architecture, engineering, project management, legal services and bookkeeping to support the development of the project. Working with PTV to procure these services can help save time and resources by streamlining the procurement process. VTI funding can help to cover these costs. Technical assistance will also support your project through all environmental and historic preservation reviews and clearances.

What sort of technical assistance is provided for community engagement? VCRD can help design and implement community discussions to identify community needs, decide on critical elements of project design, and engage interest and volunteerism in the community. Community engagement support will be designed based on the needs of the project. Additionally, VCRD can help to broaden and diversify engagement in the project and help to build a strong trust board membership with a diverse set of skills and experiences.

Do we have to participate in the community engagement elements of this project? Yes. Community engagement helps make sure that the needs of the community are fully understood, and that projects respond to those needs in a way that’s meaningful and moves the whole community forward. Participation in this program includes the formation or strengthening of a local community trust or other organization and engagement to include the community in advancing your initiative.  However, this will look different in each community. We will be meeting each community where it is in their process. Some communities may have already completed a great deal of community discussion and engagement while others may need more support.. The success of this program is establishing a Community Trust that can take on a physical project and  also be ready to support the future needs of the community, too. The community engagement phase of this program will work to ensure that the Community Trust is selecting a project of impact and generating a representative team within the community that can work on future projects.

We already have a Community Trust in our village. Do we have to create a new organization? No, an existing local Community Trust may participate in the program.  

How much funding is there for each project? There are two phases of funding for selected projects; technical assistance funding to help with the predevelopment work that every project requires and implementation funding to help with rehabilitation and construction. Each project can expect between $200,000-$450,000 of funding to support the Community Trust and its project. The award amount will be dependent on project scale, community need, and the funding landscape. For all projects, the award will be substantial enough to simplify the funding stack.

What types of technical assistance is available with the funding?
Eligible technical assistance funding for predevelopment tasks include:

  • Legal support with establishing 501(c)3 organizations,
  • Architectural and engineering services,
  • Landscape architectural services,
  • Budget and fundraising consultant support,
  • Project management support,
  • Historic preservation consultants with NEPA and Section 106 experience,
  • Environmental testing and engineering,
  • Environmental Review consultants
  • Hazardous materials testing,
  • Cost estimation services,
  • Surveying, and
  • Appraisal services.

What if our project is really expensive and we need more money? The VTI implementation award is substantial and can support up to one fourth of a project’s implementation budget, up to $500,000.  VTI funding will be just one of several funding sources needed to fully fund a project. The Vermont Community Foundation will partner with PTV, VCRD, and the Community Trust to identify funding to complement VTI implementation funds.

What sort of conditions, easements, or obligations come with implementation funding?

Long-Term Obligations
Funded projects will enter into a long term partnership with PTV. A term lien will be placed on the property as a result of the funding. Requirements of the lien may be amended upon request and after review and approval by PTV.

Environmental Review Process
The Environmental Review (ER) process is required for all VTI-funded projects to ensure that the proposed project does not negatively impact the surrounding environment and that the property site itself will not have an adverse environmental or health effect on end users. PTV will work with the funded projects and the HUD CPF Grant Officers and Regional Environmental Officers to determine individual project requirements. The ER process will ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and other regulatory requirements. The purpose of the ER is to assess the impacts of the project on the environment and the impacts of the environment on the project; involve the public in the decision-making process; and make better-informed decisions.

VTI-funded projects will follow the Secretary’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, specifically the Standards for Rehabilitation. Buildings that are eligible or listed on the National Register will follow the Standards. Buildings that are not eligible for the National Register, either due to age or alteration, will follow the recommendations outlined in the Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings for New Exterior Additions and Related New Construction.

PTV staff and a pool of qualified consultants will help projects navigate regulatory requirements.

Can I apply in the future? Yes. We expect to have 3-4 rounds of funding opportunities. Feel free to contact us to discuss your project and readiness to participate.

My community has many ideas for a space in our town. Should we apply? Yes. This may be something that this program can help you with!

Do I need to have a team of people or can I apply myself? A team of people is not an eligibility requirement, however, the most successful projects engage the full community and involve team collaboration. This program can help to build and expand your leadership team, but coming to the application with a group of volunteers can help you succeed.

Are trails and other greenspaces eligible? No. We’re happy to help connect you to eligible funds for outdoor recreation and green space, but this program is focused on the built environment in the historic settlement pattern of your village.

We think our building is contaminated. Can we apply? Yes. We can help you investigate the building and its existing conditions.

How long will this program last? We are meeting each community where they are. Each project will follow its own course and trajectory. Depending on the scale of the project, it can take anywhere from two to several years to complete a project. The overall Village Trust Initiative will be in place until 2030.

Get Started by Submitting an Intake Form

Intake forms are due by Friday, May 24th, 2024, at 4pm. All eligible intake forms will be reviewed and PTV and VCRD will follow up with community calls to learn more about your group and project. A select number of applicants will be invited to submit a full application. The VTI program is a multi-year opportunity with future windows to apply.  If you have immediate questions, please contact Kaziah Haviland,

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