Where did the time go? 

Welcome to the bonus edition from the Vermont Women’s Fund! We have so much to talk about, it’s twice as packed with info and updates than usual.

It seems like just yesterday we were in the Davis Center with Ted Bunch from A CALL TO MEN , who spoke to a packed house about how men are the solution to make gender equity a reality. (P.S. 70% of the audience were men – a real gamechanger for the Women’s Fund!) 

A month later in March, gender equity was the subject again, this time for a film screening about the food industry. A Fine Line is a documentary about the dearth of women chefs and restaurant owners, illustrated by the story of the filmmaker’s mother who succeeded in her business despite the odds. Organized by a group of some of Burlington’s renowned chefs and restaurants owners, the film followed by a panel discussion was a stellar event and the Women’s Fund was the most fortunate beneficiary. Read details in this issue, too.

April may be the most challenging month of all – not because of the weather – but it marks the season when the Women’s Fund council must deliberate and choose 2019 grant winners, also announced in this newsletter. This work is the very heart and soul of the Vermont Women’s Fund. 

A loud round of applause goes ou t to the 2019 grantee winners – the service providers around the state who are dedicated to helping women and girls in Vermont improve their lives and futures. Let me also add a hug e thank you to the Vermont Women’s Fund Council , who devote their time and energy to this process. 

Right around the corner:
  • Persist 5K Run/Walk. Start off Mother’s Day with a run or walk along Lake Champlain in solidarity and spirit celebrating women! 
  • This year marks the 25th anniversary celebration of the Vermont Women’s Fund! Twenty-five years is truly something to cheer about and we plan to do it up right! Mark October 16, 2019 on your calendar and we will follow up with more updates about that event and other 25th celebrations in the upcoming months. 

Meg Smith, Director 
Announcing 2019 Grantees
Every year, the Vermont Women’s Fund awards grants to nonprofits around the state with programs that provide pathways to viable careers and help women achieve economic self-sufficiency. 

The programs range from providing basic services for women and their families to training programs for new business development. The common theme of our grant-giving is economic self-sufficiency, the cornerstone for any economic indicator of success.  

Please join me and the Vermont Women’s Fund council in congratulating this year’s 2019 award winners!
  • Capstone Community Action received $10,000 for a program that provides at-risk young women an educational foundation, exposure to viable careers, financial literacy coaching, and asset building.

  • Catamount Connections received $2,500 for a program that works with women throughout greater Bennington County to develop strategies to remove barriers to employment and build fulfillment in their lives.

  • Center for Women & Enterprise received $5,000 to provide 10 women in Rutland with over 39 hours each of entrepreneurial education that will improve their financial literacy as they start new businesses, which will in turn create jobs and drive economic growth.

  • The Family Place received $10,000 for an intensive, pre-vocational, interpersonal, and parenting program for young parents and pregnant women living in poverty in northern Windsor County. 

  • Governor’s Institute of Vermont received $5,000 for scholarships to Vermont girls who could not otherwise participate in the Institute's’intensive learning residences that build job and college readiness and create new understanding of pathways to career goals.

  • The Howard Center received $10,000 for a program that provides housing and support to help women throughout Vermont who are transitioning from prison to build the foundation necessary for a sober, healthy, and independent life for themselves and their families.

  • John Graham Shelter received $10,000 for a program that offers a three phase process to empower homeless girls and women with skills and confidence to envision, plan, and realize a successful career path and an abundant future. 

  • Let’s Grow Kids received $10,000 for their initiative across the state of Vermont to unlock significant wage increases and provide job security to a female-dominated workforce that has been chronically undervalued and undercompensated.

  • Northeast Kingdom Collaborative received $500 to help launch NEK Women Engaged in Leadership, a networking group for mission-driven women in leadership positions in businesses and nonprofits in the Northeast Kingdom. 

  • Northern Vermont Area Health Education Center and Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center each received $5,000 for their MedQuest program which provides high school students with six-day college campus programs focused on intensive healthcare career exploration. 

  • Southeastern Vermont Community Action received $2,500 for a program that helps young women with limited income, little or no work history, and barriers to entering the workforce obtain core skills, find jobs, and identify further training and educational opportunities to advance their careers.

  • United Way of Lamoille County received $10,000 to support a residential program designed to provide educational and employment opportunities to low-income, single parents enabling them to obtain higher wages to support their families.

  • Vermont Technical College received $7,500 for three youth programs structured to get middle and high school students interested in STEM fields, introduce them to computer coding, and to prep them for college.

  • Vermont Works for Women received $10,000 to expand their existing Step In to Work program to deliver new employment support services to reach more women who struggle financially, to increase awareness, knowledge, skills, and access to work that advances economic stability.

The specifics on the Vermont Women’s Fund’s guidelines and giving parameters are available on our website .
Moving the Needle: #MenMoveVTForward
On February 5, 2019, a seismic shift was felt in Burlington, Vermont. That’s when a sold-out audience of 460 people – over 70% men – gathered for breakfast to hear speaker, activist, and influencer, Ted Bunch from A CALL TO MEN

The Vermont Women’s Fund and Change The Story co-hosted this first-of-its-kind event to highlight that positive change for women will only happen with the engagement of men. This was demonstrated by our host committee, a group of over 35 men (we call our Champions for Change) who volunteered to help us achieve our goal of getting men to the breakfast. This included attendance by Governor Phil Scott and n early 40 of his Cabinet heads and staff, Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, and Attorney General TJ Donovan and his staff. A Vermont Women’s Fund first: men outnumbered women!
As Ted described to the packed room,
“We are the first generation of men to be held accountable for something men have always gotten away with. This is not an indictment on men, it’s an invitation.
It’s an invitation to learn and to change. We may not be sure how to navigate these uncharted waters but remaining silent is not a part of the solution
– it only perpetuates the problem.”

Ted has worked for over 20 years for the organization he co-founded to address sexual violence and discrimination against women that is rooted in our history and has deeply influenced the definition of manhood in our culture. Ted has worked to deconstruct how men and boys are socialized with groups including the U.S. military, the NFL, MLB, NHL, and many other major sports leagues, along with scores of colleges and universities, to name a few. 
As Ted described, “The bridge from intervention to prevention is men. We are the solution. We know that the majority of men don’t perpetrate violence against women and girls. But we are responsible for creating, maintaining, and benefiting from a male dominating culture that is required for the violence to exist. Once we are educated to address these realities, there is hope for men to stop this cycle.”

Ted’s remarks moved many in the audience to think differently about how their behavior might perpetuate gender inequality in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Attendees were encouraged to commit on paper to action steps they can take to improve gender equity, and to come up with ones of their own. Tucked inside self-addressed envelopes, Change The Story mailed those commitments back to them two weeks later. Here are some of the other commitments that some men made:
  • Continue the conversation; talk with my son.
  • Promoting healthy masculinity, being an upstander, intervening in situations, furthering the discussion
  • Speak up for trans and gender non-conforming people in gender equity conversations
  • Adding equity conversations to our staff meetings/conversations
  • Create a space in which my female friends/colleagues can feel valued in their ideas and contributions.

And here’s an interesting one from one of the women:
  • Asking the men I know how they feel and what I can do to support them.
The Vermont Women’s Fund is extremely proud to be at the heart of this endeavor and to change the narrative from “women’s issues” to “family issues.” We need to break through old thinking about gender roles and acknowledge that wage equity, leadership, and childcare affect all of us. It is only when we are all moving in the same direction that real solutions will emerge.

A quick thanks to our Champions for Change host committee along with our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are standing up for the work of the Vermont Women’s Fund and Change The Story. They include , Gravel & Shea , Green Mountain Power , Vermont Gas , VSECU , Kria Botanicals , Sugarbush , E4H Environments for Health Architecture , Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence , Downs Rachlin Martin , Vermont Works , Vermont Innovation Commons , and Logic Supply .
Persist 5K Run/Walk Celebrates Mother's Day with Attitude and Gratitude!
The Persist 5K salutes the community of women in Vermont by hosting the third annual Run/Walk on Sunday, May 12th (Mother’s Day) beginning at 9:00 a.m. from the Community Sailing Center in Burlington.  

The Women’s Fund is honored and grateful to be the beneficiary of this race, started three years ago by a group of Vermont women inspired to carry on the spirit of the Women’s March. It continues on today with the same intention and energy—celebrating women and all who love them. 

And don’t let the word “race” deter you. Runners and walkers of any age are welcome to register and join in the fun.  

As an added incentive, the first 400 registrants receive an awesome Nordic Headband from Skida , Vermont’s women-owned headwear and accessories maker. Ben & Jerry’s will be there to scoop ice cream . Ben & Jerry’s will be there to scoop ice cream and DJ Love Doctor spinning tunes. It starts off Mother’s Day with the right spirit of attitude and gratitude!  

This grassroots effort is aided by a host of sponsors who generously support the race and everyone involved. It's not too late to organize a team from work or invite your mother, grandmother, sister, brother, Dad or friend. It’s a fun way to start Mother’s Day and support the work of the Vermont Women’s Fund!

 For information about the race and to register, go to
A Fine Line
When Molly Stevens, local cookbook author and professional cooking teacher saw the trailer for the documentary, A Fine Line, she instantly knew she wanted to bring it to Burlington.

"The film hit a hot button for me both personally and professionally,” Stevens said. “There’s a real disparity for women in the food industry, especially in the higher echelons of restaurant ownership and management.” 

A Fine Line , produced by Joanna James, chronicles the story of her mother, Val, and what it took for her to rise to restaurant ownership overcoming years of embedded discrimination. Interspersed are interviews and stories from world-renowned women chefs and restauranteurs who faced similar resistance. 

Stevens continued, “This film shows so clearly how gender inequity affects the food industry - and Vermont is no exception. But the outpouring of support by restaurants, distributors and food producers tells me that change is happening. The Women’s Fund is one of the primary organizations leading the way to making that happen in Vermont.”

A Fine Line was screened on March 7 at Main Street Landing to a sell-out audience – many of whom enthusiastically signed on as sponsors when asked by Molly and the event committee: Maura O’Sullivan (chef manager of Penny Cluse and Lucky Next Door), Allison Gibson, (co-owner of Honey Road), Abby Portman (Intervale Center), Leslie Halperin (VT Women’s Fund council) and Deb Lichtenfeld. Food generously prepared and donated by some of Burlington’s best restaurants greeted movie-goers at the door along with signature beverages.  

Following the film, there was a panel discussion with Cara Chigazola-Tobin, chef/owner of Honey Road, Gwen Pokalo from the Center of Women & Enterprise, and the filmmaker herself, Joanna Jones. Tiff Bluemle, leader of the initiative, Change The Story, moderated. 

It was a tremendous evening full of old friends, great food, and lively discussion.The Women’s Fund was honored to be the recipient of this event, one that raised more money than any other event to date! 

We hope to invite Joanna James back to Vermont on behalf of the Women’s Fund, and show her film in other locations around the state. Stay tuned for that! 

Final thank you to the many, many sponsors who humbled us with their contributions to the Women's Fund and equal pay, including lead sponsors: Honey Road , Gravel & Shea , , Shacksbury , Champlain Valley Dispensary , Eating Well , A Single Pebble , Deli 126 , City Market , Bluebird BBQ , Sodexo , Black River Produce , Dedalus , Hotel Vermont , Zero Gravity / American Flatbread , and Michele and Peter Asche.

We encourage you to browse through the photos and testimonies that they sent about why they believe in our work on our Instagram account .
Honor Women Who Nurtured You
We all started in this world thanks to the labor of mothers. Many of us are lucky to have several women who make an impact in our lives - those we are related to and those whom we choose to be family.

This Mother’s Day, make a gift in honor of mothers, grandmothers, and wom en who nurture and support other women. He lp Vermont women and girls rise and thrive.