Community Engagement Technical Assistance Grants

On April 14, VSBA hosted a day-long workshop on Engaged, Equitable Governance facilitated by grant partner Public Agenda. It was a dynamic, informative session that fostered involvement and generating new thinking on incorporating new strategies into what districts are already doing.

For those interested in more information, here are the slides and findings from a comprehensive study on Community Engagement in Vermont:

  1. Handouts given the day of the event

  2. PowerPoint

  3. Planning Guide for Communities

The VSBA is seeking applicants for technical assistance grants through the Effective Engaged Governance Project.  The grants are designed to help school districts and supervisory unions develop effective systems of engagement in their communities.  The Effective Engaged Governance Project is supported by a grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.


Three districts will be selected to receive technical assistance from Public Agenda and the Vermont School Boards Association for a year of work (over the 2018-2019 academic year) to plan and begin implementing changes to their engagement practices. 


The application deadline is May 1.  The application is available here. Grant recipients will be notified by June 1.

To support this work in the three districts, Public Agenda and the VSBA will:

  • Visit each district to interview school and community leaders, help assess the state of engagement and equity locally, list local assets and challenges, and facilitate planning meetings in-person.

  • Create a plan to support district-specific engagement goals.

  • Provide ongoing support to districts by phone, email, and webinars.

We envision the work in the three districts as proceeding in three phases: learning (June through October, including at least some light work over the summer), planning (October-December), implementation (January-April), and reflection and next steps (May-June). However, this calendar will vary according to the particular context and goals of each district.

Criteria for Applicants
The request for proposals is open to all school districts in Vermont.  However, Nellie Mae, VSBA, and Public Agenda are particularly interested in serving schools where 50% of the students qualify for free lunch. A few Vermont districts and supervisory unions already meet this criterion district-wide, according to the Vermont Agency of Education’s annual report. Many others have individual schools that meet criterion even if the district/supervisory union as a whole does not. We encourage those districts and SUs to submit proposals that would feature work with schools within the district/supervisory union that meet the 50% free lunch criterion. 
As we read the proposals, we’ll be looking for:

  • A commitment to equity in both outcomes and process, including:

    • Examples of how you define and assess educational equity

    • Desire to engage large, diverse numbers of people including low-income families, and some learning from past attempts to do this (or success at doing it)

    • Awareness of and ability to communicate data on equity in student outcomes

  • A commitment to engagement, including:

    • The desire to learn from past engagement experiences (good and bad) and the willingness to try new things

    • A good understanding of the specific question(s) or challenge(s) that engagement might help you address. Examples include but are not limited to:

      • How to establish school-based councils

      • How to approach school redesign, the allocation of resources among member districts in a supervisory union, or other key decisions

      • How to create or expand initiatives to strengthen and support student voice at the school and district levels

      • How to use new tools for communication on student progress, such as proficiency-based report cards

  • Energetic, interactive leadership (school and community), including:

    • Evidence of strong, stable leadership at the board, superintendent, and principal level

    • Success in communicating, collaborating across the district and community

  • Evidence of how engagement connects with student experience and how you are working towards elevating student voice

The application deadline is May 1, 2018. Work will begin in June or July depending on the needs and availability of each community. Planning and implementation will continue through June 2019.
If you have any questions about the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact Susan Holson either by email ( or by phone (802-223-3580).


Vermont School Boards Association

2 Prospect Street, Suite 4

Montpelier, VT 05602

Phone: 800-244-8722   Fax: 802-223-0098

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