BRATTLEBORO -- Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity has received $15,000 in grant funds from the Vermont Community Foundation to further its work toward a more multicultural workforce in the state.
Executive Director Curtiss Reed Jr. said the money comes from an innovation and collaboration grant to support Vermont Partnership's Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future Initiative, which explores institutional policies and practices that respond more effectively to Vermont's changing cultural landscape and the broader multicultural marketplace. He said the grant will be used over the course of a year to finance travel, staff time and web support.
"What we're trying to do is strengthen our networks of folks, institutions, nonprofits and governmental agencies that are practicing what we consider really good business practices around diversity, inclusion and equity," he told the Reformer.
Reed said demographics are changing in Vermont, which is one of the whitest states in the country in terms of population. He also said economic opportunity and growth lie in multiculturalism.
He said one of the ways Vermont Partnership will use the grant money is by utilizing social media and newsletters to reach out to members of its network to describe examples of racial and sexual diversity in hiring practices. Reed cited specifically the Vermont State Police, which he said has changed its recruiting methods as a way of attracting more minority, female and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender applicants.
Reed told the Reformer he had applied earlier in the year for a smaller grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, which informed him of the $15,000 innovation and collaboration grant. Reed said he applied for it and found out on Thursday, Dec. 26, Vermont Partnership would be the recipient.
Last year, the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing opened an African-American Heritage Trail with several sites (including Grafton) of importance to black history in the state. Reed said the trail is intended to boost cultural tourism in the Green Mountain State and increase awareness of its terrific record of racial tolerance. One of the stops on the heritage trail is the Grafton Historical Society. The town was once home to Daisy Turner, who Reed called "probably the most enthusiastic and insightful storyteller that Vermont has ever seen."
Vermont is home to the first state constitution banning slavery within its borders, a passionate abolitionist movement and the first African-American to earn a degree from an American university and get elected to a state legislature.
Vermont Partnership holds an annual strategy-sharing conference for its Vermont Vision for a Multicultural Future network. The third annual conference will be held at the Mount Snow Resort in West Dover in November.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.