Inaugural Main Street Grants Will Help Fund Seven Downtown Projects

Montpelier, Vermont – Seven communities around Vermont were announced on Tuesday as the inaugural winners of Main Street Grants, a program the National Life Group Foundation created in partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation.


The grants include funding for signs to guide visitors through downtowns, renovation of a community center, and updating a historic performance space.


In all, $85,500 in grants were awarded to Barre, Bennington, Montpelier, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, Waterbury, and Wilmington. The National Life Foundation provided $70,500 of the funding and the Vermont Community Foundation provided $15,000.


“We’re delighted to be able to support the exciting things happening in Vermont downtowns,” said Beth Rusnock, president of the National Life Foundation. “The projects that we’ll help fund will drive the local economy, support local culture and help to foster the civic pride that Vermonters take in their communities.”


“The heart of community is a sense of common experience,” said Dan Smith, president of the Vermont Community Foundation. “Vermont should be proud of the work going on across the state to design energetic downtown spaces that bring people together, foster connections and build community. We are excited to be partnering with National Life in exploring how to bring together people and resources to make a difference for these downtowns.”


There were applications for 29 different projects across the state. National Life partnered with the Preservation Trust of Vermont to analyze the projects and recommend funding. In addition to contributing toward the grants, the Vermont Community Foundation is reviewing all of the applications to determine whether they might qualify for additional future funding.


“I appreciate the support of National Life Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation in launching these new Main Street Grants,” said Governor Scott. “Revitalizing Vermont’s downtowns and villages is crucial to strengthening Vermont’s economy, and I am so thankful for the incredible state, local, public and private partnerships working to build stronger, more vibrant communities.”


The winning projects were announced at a news conference with Gov. Phil Scott at the annual Downtown Day at the Statehouse. The grant winners are:


Barre: Creation of a historical walking tour of downtown and a bicycling tour that connects to Upper Graniteville. The project includes historical plaques, brochures and website. $5,500.


Bennington: The Grow Bennington Initiative is designed to create greater vibrancy in the town center with a variety of projects, including plantings, signs, a park and, year-round lighting of trees to make the downtown more visually appealing, safer and vibrant. $5,500.


Montpelier: Phase 2 of a “wayfinding” project to manufacture and install signs that will help to guide downtown visitors to landmarks, historic sites and other places in the downtown. $9,000.


St. Albans: Continue renovating the City Hall Auditorium into a modern performance space with new sound and lighting equipment, curtains, and a repaired and extended stage. $15,000.


St. Johnsbury: Enhancements of Depot Square Park to create gathering spaces with benches and tables, sculpted bike racks, art installations and signs, and community events. $20,000.


Waterbury: Projects to make Waterbury’s downtown a “bike-friendly” community with bicycle racks, improved signs directing riders to downtown from attractions outside the business core, and bike wash and repair stations. $5,500.


Wilmington: Renovate the lobby and reception area of the former Twin Valley High School building into the Old School Enrichment Center community center to make it handicap accessible, and improve directional signs, and to attract future social service, educational, wellness and community organizations as tenants. $25,000.


At National Life, our story is simple: For 170 years we’ve worked hard to deliver on our promises to millions of people with our vision of providing peace of mind in times of need. It’s our cause, stemming from a deep passion to live our values to do good, be good and make good, every day. Learn more at


Contact: Ross Sneyd, corporate communications, National Life Group, 802.229.3866.


National Life Group® is a trade name of National Life Insurance Company, founded in Montpelier, Vt., in 1848, Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, Addison, Texas, chartered in 1955, and their affiliates.  Each company of National Life Group is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.  Life Insurance Company of the Southwest is not an authorized insurer in New York and does not conduct insurance business in New York.