Opportunity for Vermont nonprofits: Gannett Foundation relaunches multimillion-dollar crowdfunding, grant program

Vermont nonprofits and municipal organizations working on projects aimed at building their communities are invited to apply to the 2020 A Community Thrives program, a $2.3 million initiative of the Gannett Foundation.

The program is sponsored by the Burlington Free Press’ parent company, Gannett. 

The nationwide crowdfunding and grant program is entering its fourth year of supporting organizations which address social issues including education, housing, arts and culture, wellness and the environment.

The Young Writers Project has been awarded $25,000 by the Gannett Foundation -- owner of the Burlington Free Press -- for the Burlington-based non-profit's new Community Journalism Project to explore topics that stir middle- and high schoolers, includingÊsocial justice, climate change and violence. Young Writers Project was one of 16 recipients of top-tier grants through Gannett Foundation's A Community Thrives project, amongÊ1,500 applicants in 46Êstates.

“We know the pandemic has forced nonprofits to look for new fundraising models that don’t involve in-person events,” Free Press editor Emilie Stigliani said. “This program could help them meet that need.”

More:Fundraising during the COVID-19 era? Here’s how a nonprofit is making it work

Typically, organizations apply to raise money for a specific community-building project. Accepted organizations will work to raise funds on their own through a crowdfunding campaign, then may be eligible for 16 major grants to be awarded across the country: three for $100,000, seven for $50,000 and six for $25,000. Those grants will go toward helping the organizations execute their proposed projects. Separate incentives will be offered to reward top fundraisers.

In addition, A Community Thrives will award over 100 grants nationally that will be targeted specifically toward communities served by Gannett news organizations, including the Burlington Free Press.

These local grants, which start at $2,500, can be used for general operating expenses. They are chosen by local leaders at Gannett news organizations.

The deadline for organizations to submit applications is Sept. 11. They must apply through the A Community Thrives website: acommunitythrives.mightycause.com.

FAQ:How can Vermont nonprofits apply to fundraise, be considered for grants?

Organizers said A Community Thrives gives nonprofit groups the opportunity to fundraise on a national platform, while major grants help further accelerate exceptional projects. 

“The Gannett Foundation grants will support our readers’ top community-building ideas to help address local needs and ensure a vibrant, healthy community. We are committed to work in partnership to help our communities connect, act and thrive,” Maribel Perez Wadsworth, Gannett Media president of news and Gannett Foundation vice president, said in a statement.

Last year, three Burlington area nonprofits were awarded grants: Young Writers Project, the Flynn Center and United Way of Northwest Vermont.

“We were thrilled to receive the $5,000 grant,” Anna Marie Gewirtz, the executive director of the Flynn Center, said after learning her organization had been selected for a grant in 2019.

Since the last Community Thrives initiative, Gannett has expanded the footprint of the USA TODAY Network, joining GateHouse Media to become the largest U.S. media company by print circulation, serving communities in 47 states.

Last year, more than $4.5 million was distributed to nonprofit groups as a result of the program. Applicants raised more than $2.5 million through their own fundraising efforts, and the Gannett Foundation gave out $2 million in grants. 

This year, grants will be awarded based on the proposed projects’ viability, sustainability, community need and service to historically disadvantaged groups. 

This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a subscription to the  Burlington Free Press.