The Vermont Changemakers Table is a group of young Vermonters seeking to collaborate and build relationships that bring positive change to Vermont and its communities. The program is a collaboration between Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), and the High Meadows Fund (HMF) and has connected and empowered five cohorts of young Vermonters since its inception in 2016. This year’s Changemakers Table program will convene a group of about 21 Vermonters with diverse backgrounds, occupations, and experience for a series of in-person and virtual meetings over the course of about 7 months to discuss an issue facing Vermont communities chosen by participants. At monthly meetings, participants will hear from leaders and experts across the state, share lived experience and explore innovative solutions to the issues facing our state.
There is no program fee to participate in the Changemakers Table program.
2021-2022 Cohort Details
The program will span from October 2021 through April 2022, consisting of two in-person dinner events, four virtual full-group meetings, and a handful of opportunities to connect with other participants through regional meet-ups, coffee chats and, possibly, a volunteering event. The organizers will determine the overarching issue discussed throughout the year based on the interests of participants’ as submitted through their applications. The cohort will be able to frame the selected issue at the first meeting to determine what kinds of guest speakers they’d like to hear from, what questions they want to answer throughout the year, and how to explore new ideas or interventions that could lead to solutions. All guest speakers will be offered a stipend for their time and expertise.
Below is the schedule of programming for the year. Please do not apply unless you are confident that you can attend all or almost all of the events listed:
- In-person kick-off dinner (likely in central VT): Thursday, Oct. 14, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
- Virtual meeting: Thursday, Nov. 18, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
- Virtual meeting: Thursday, Jan. 13, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
- Virtual meeting: Thursday, Feb. 17, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
- Virtual meeting: Thursday, March 10, 5:30 – 7 p.m.
- In-person wrap-up dinner: Thursday, April 7, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Transportation to in-person meetings is not provided, but participants in past years have often carpooled with other participants in their region.
During the program, the group will explore a single issue from multiple angles. As one example, if the group chooses the overarching issue of racial justice in Vermont, there could be individual meetings on land sovereignty, community policing, and/or migrant farmworker justice. As another example, if the group chooses to discuss climate change, meeting topics could include equitable emissions reductions, adaptation to severe weather, how to engage communities most impacted by climate change, and/or impacts on our agricultural economy. If there’s interest, we may also organize collective volunteer opportunities, for example to help plant trees and stabilize a riparian buffer or make meals at a food shelf. Many of the issues that Vermont faces are interconnected and inseparable – the overarching issue chosen at the beginning of the program will serve as the lens through which the group can discuss distinct challenges facing Vermont communities.
Ideal applicants to this program will be:
- Passionate about exploring and strengthening the communities they live in
- Seeking to build new relationships with fellow young Vermonters
- Seeking to learn from diverse perspectives and identities
- Excited to dig into difficult discussions
- Under 35 years old
The Changemakers Table’s success relies on a broad diversity of perspectives and lived experience. High Meadows, VBSR, and VCF aim to create a diverse cohort with backgrounds and interests in different sectors (for example, health care, child development, farming or forestry, environmental advocacy, nonprofit, government, and business). We are working to assemble a group that includes Vermonters living in different areas of the state, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ & gender-noncomforming people, first or second generation Americans, and people with refugee status. Coordinators of the program will aim to support discussions across differences, but will also work to ensure no one will be asked to speak on behalf of their community.
Last year’s program included a grant round designed by program participants aiming to support efforts to address issues discussed throughout the program (for more info on the grant round, read this blog post from High Meadows). We’re working to secure funding for a similar grant round this year if there’s interest among this year’s participants. Through this process, last year’s participants learned the nuts and bolts of philanthropic grant rounds and employed what they learned throughout the year to financially support Vermonters leading important work.
In addition to the cohort meetings, connecting with other young people from across Vermont, and access to a network of leaders across the state, each member will receive a free Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility membership for the year, providing them with access to VBSR educational programming, networking opportunities, and free admission to two VBSR on-line workshops, along with other member benefits.
Questions about the Vermont Changemakers Table?
Email VBSR Education & Events Manager, Molly Barfuss, at: firstname.lastname@example.org