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BRATTLEBORO — One month after announcing the creation of the Bright Leadership Institute (BLI), the organization announced the opening of applications for its first class of Bright Scholars. The Bright Leadership Institute is named for Louvenia Dorsey Bright, the first Black woman to serve in the state legislature, and is a leadership training program and network for BIPOC Vermonters.

Steffen Gillom, executive director of BLI, said he is excited by the pace of progress in standing up the organization. “The Bright Scholars cohort is intended to bring together emerging BIPOC leaders in Vermont,” Gillom said. “While we are offering training, a lot of it will be unlocking the existing potential of people already organizing for change in their communities. We are excited to get started and inaugurate our first class.”

Applications can be found and submitted at www.brightleadershipvt.org/apply. Applications will be accepted until April 9 at 11:59 p.m. BLI has a growing advisory board and faculty that includes Gillom, communications professional Arshad Hasan, former Rep. Nader Hashim, former Vermont NAACP Director Tabitha Moore, Sen. Kesha Ram, and Rutland Area NAACP Chapter President Mia Schultz.

They will review applications and notify applicants by April 16 for an anticipated May 1 start date to the program.

The hope is that the duration of the signature Bright Scholars program will be approximately six months, one weekend session per month. Due to the socioeconomic barriers that keep many BIPOC Vermonters from participating in leadership and decision-making, the program will provide a $1,000 stipend to each Bright Scholar. “It’s important that we acknowledge the real financial barriers to running and serving, and that starts with taking care of people while they develop their leadership skills and a community of support,” said Schultz.

To learn more about the application process and the Bright Leadership Institute, email brightleadershipvermont@gmail.com. The application and further information is also available at www.brightleadershipvt.org. Donations can be made payable to “Rutland NAACP — Bright Leadership Institute” at P.O. Box 311, Wallingford, VT 05773.