The Vermont Principals Association
Search this site for:

Welcoming, Equitable & Antiracist Communities Update

The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA), the Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA), and the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) announced the receipt of a grant award of $150,000 from the Vermont Community Foundation and Barr Foundation in early 2021. An additional award of $100,000 was provided in early 2022 to continue the collaborative work of the three associations. And a third award of $30,000 was granted in August of 2022 to extend the equity mini-grants in local districts/schools. The total amount granted is $280,000. The grant funds support work by the Associations to promote equity, inclusion, and antiracism in communities statewide and is part of the Vermont Community Foundation’s Welcoming, Equitable and Antiracist Communities Recovery Initiative. The initial goals of the investment and spending outline were developed with stakeholders in collaboration with the Associations’ staff and with input from a survey distributed to all members of the given associations.

This newsletter serves as an update from VSBA, VSA, and VPA to our members on the shared work of supporting education communities to improve equitable practices and outcomes for all of Vermont students specific to this philanthropic investment. At the end of this grant update, we also included some closely related work and resources that were not specifically funded with these investments, but have significant overlap.


Mini-Grants to Support Local Changemakers

School-Based Mini-Grants

The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA), Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA), and Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) announced the Equitable, Anti-Racist, and Inclusive Education Communities Mini-Grant in January 2022.

The 2022 mini-grant program had 41 applications! The applications were from around the state and demonstrated impressive interest and commitment to equity in our school communities. Selections were made in part to be representative of the various projects, stakeholders, and geographic areas of the state. Five applications were selected at the $5,000 range, and thanks to additional funds being made available by the Vermont Community Foundation, an additional 10 applications were selected to receive $2,500 grants. The total investment in the winter of 2022 distribution of min-grants was $50,000. An opportunity to extend this investment was shared in the fall of 2022, with an additional $18,000 distributed for a grand total of $68,000 currently distributed directly to local equity projects.

The school-based equity mini-grants had the goal of providing direct and meaningful support to local changemakers. A secondary goal was to provide examples of ideas, innovations, and collaborations for other school communities to learn from. Recipients have begun to develop their stories that will be shared with VSBA, VSA, and VPA in the upcoming months.

Some of the projects funded by the grant program include but are not limited to:

  • Affinity groups and task forces to support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth
  • Culturally responsive curriculum building with the Clemmons Family Farm
  • Deeper conversations for schools and students about the Abenaki culture and traditions of respecting and protecting the environment and Mother Earth with the Abenaki Arts and Education Center
  • Books that champion anti-racism, inclusion, and equity
  • Community Juneteenth celebration

School Board-Focused Mini-Grants

The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA), Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA), and Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) announced the School Board Equitable, Anti-Racist, and Inclusive Education Communities Mini-Grant in August 2022. Applicants were asked to describe how their proposed projects aligned with the anti-racist and inclusive mission of the grant project as well as with VSBA’s Essential Work of School Boards Framework.

The 2022 school board mini-grant program had 19 applications! Six applications were awarded at $5,000, for a total investment of $30,000 of mini-grants at the local school board level.

Projects funded by the grant program included:

  • Board training on educational equity and impacts of systemic institutional bias
  • Creation of a shared vision for equity
  • Improving community engagement practices
  • Development of procedures for a recently adopted equity policy
  • Policy review through an equity lens

On-Demand Consulting & Member Professional Learning Services with Insight Education Group

To assist VSBA, VSA, and VPA members with ongoing conversations in their communities related to equity and related topics, the associations entered into a partnership with Insight Education Group (IEG) in the fall of 2021 to develop resources (talking points, community engagement best practices, communication strategies, etc) as well as provide real-time thought partnership to superintendents, administrators, and school board chairs.

Insight Education Group has offered consultation for board chairs, superintendents, and central office leaders related to equity audits, budgeting with equity in mind, affinity and brave spaces, running effective board meetings when equity and anti-racism is the focus, and engaging with the community.

Consultation with Insight Education Group Request Form

(These services will end on December 31, 2022.)

In addition to the on-demand consultation and regularly scheduled support for superintendents, Insight Education Group has collaborated with the associations to provide professional learning opportunities to our members. You can view an archived video of the March 2022 webinar for members or attend the upcoming, Navigating Challenging Conversations to Improve Educational Equity on December 13, 2022 from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. The target audience is board members, school district leaders, and building leaders. Webinar participants will have an opportunity to:

  • Learn about specific tools to navigate conversations successfully
  • Practice using tools to work through scenarios
  • Learn from colleagues who are facing similar challenges
  • Share experiences and ask questions of the facilitators and each other

Registration for this event is currently closed. Please email Chelsea Myers at if you would like to attend. The recording for this event will be available to members following the session.

Vermont Superintendents Association On-Demand Consulting & Member Professional Learning Services with Outright Vermont

Outright Vermont and VSA are partnering beginning January 2023, offering small group and individual consultation meetings with district leaders and two opportunities for Q&A with Superintendents during the school year (February 7 at noon & April 4 & noon; virtually). At this critical juncture in Vermont’s educational landscape, Outright is here to support leadership in districts responding to pushback, seeking best practices, and wanting more resources and skills to truly build districts that are welcoming to all. This is a VSA member benefit.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Sports and Activities

The grant has helped strengthen pre-existing and ongoing efforts in the area of sports and activities. Specifically, the grant has helped to fund the anti-hate poster contest cash awards and distribution of the winning poster to all schools, fund professional learning for athletic directors, and supplement the funding for DEI focused content at the student-athlete conference in 2022. In partnership with the Vermont School Athletic Directors Association (VSADA) and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Activities subcommittee (founded in the winter of 2021), the VPA has taken the following actions and will continue to advance these efforts going forward in conjunction with DEI subcommittee leadership:

These efforts are examples of some of the actions that have evolved from the monthly DEI in Activities meetings which review and recommend improvements to policies, procedures, professional learning, and much more in the areas of interscholastic sports and student activities.

Vermont School Board Association Student Intern

VSBA was very fortunate to have a summer intern in 2022. Addie Lentzner graduated from Arlington Memorial High School in June and spent the summer taking a deeper dive into the importance of equity initiatives in Vermont public education. A report and presentation, titled “Addressing the Correlation Between Income, Race, and Student Achievement,” was delivered to the VSBA Board of Directors. Addie’s analysis highlighted the correlation between income, race and student achievement. Her article in the VSBA’s Fall Newsletter provided board members with practical factors to consider when developing policy and serves as a blueprint for board work in this area.

School Board Policy Review in Support of Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion

The VSBA/VSBIT policy team develops, reviews, and updates model policies in response to changes in law or in rule, and also as members’ needs arise. During the equity grant period, the VSBA facilitated collaboration between the VSBA/VSBIT policy team and an equity consultant from Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity to accomplish the review of 11 model policies through an equity lens. All revised model policies have been issued and can be found in the VSBA model policy manual.

Subgrant Award to the Education Justice Coalition of Vermont

In October of 2022, Our Associations collaborated with the Education Justice Coalition of Vermont to provide one-time funding of $6,300 for the planning, delivery, and post-meeting distribution of resources of a summit. The 12/8/22 summit is to gather active Vermont educators and stakeholders together to discuss and build sample resources (e.g. teacher lesson plans) for the implementation of an anticipated revision of Vermont’s Educational Quality Standards (EQS) as led by the ACT 1 Working Group.

Vermont School Board Resources, Training, and Support

In early November 2022, over 20 community stakeholders from various organizations across the state – including VSBA, VSA, and VPA – came together for a two-day workshop titled “Leading for Equity.” This workshop was led by the Arizona School Board Association and walked participants through some of the resources, sequences of learning, and activities that they have implemented in Arizona. Along with feedback from a broad stakeholder group, that training and its corresponding resources will inform a Vermont School Board Association version of an equity framework for boards and will lead to the development of equity-focused specific resources for Vermont’s school district governing boards in their work to ensure that each and every student is supported in their educational journey.

Related Initiatives and Resources

The following updates and resources are not direct investments from Vermont Community Foundation’s Welcoming, Equitable and Antiracist Communities Recovery Initiative but do have significant overlap.

Act 1 of 2019 Ethnic and Social Equity Studies Standards Update

In 2019 the Legislature passed Act 1, a law to establish ethnic & social equity studies standards in Vermont schools. Act 1 established a working group to “review standards for student performance adopted by the State Board of Education and…recommend to the State Board updates and additional standards to fully recognize the history, contributions, and perspectives of ethnic groups and social groups.” VSBA, VSA, and VPA have sat on the Working Group since its sunset, with Associate Executive Directors Chelsea Myers (VSA) and Mike McRaith (VPA) serving on the Education Quality Standards Subcommittee. After a long and collaborative process, the Act I Working Group submitted proposed revisions of the Educational Quality Standards (EQS) to the Vermont State Board of Education.

The draft EQS currently sits with the State Board Education Quality Standards Rule Update Committee as the Committee hears testimony from stakeholders before moving the rules to the State Board in its entirety. The EQS revisions will be subject to the formal rulemaking processes of the State Board. In the meantime, the Associations have been co-presenting with Act 1 Working Group Chair Amanda Garces and Co-Chair Mark Hage to stakeholders across the state, first at the Vermont School Boards Association/Vermont Superintendents Association Annual Conference (presentation slides) and later to educators at the Annual Rowland Foundation Conference (presentation slides).

Model Policy on Nondiscriminatory Mascots and School Branding

Act 152 of 2022 outlined the intent of the General Assembly to “ensure that all Vermont schools provide positive and inclusive learning environments for all students by eliminating the use of discriminatory school branding, which undermines the educational experiences of members of all communities and perpetuates negative stereotypes. All Vermont students should feel safe and welcome while enrolled in a Vermont school.” As required by Act 152, the Secretary of the Agency of Education has issued a model policy on nondiscriminatory mascots and school branding. Under Act 152 (codified as 16 V.S.A. § 568), a board of a public school or an approved independent school is required to develop and ensure implementation of a nondiscriminatory school branding policy that must be at least as comprehensive as the model policy, which includes administrative responsibilities and a process for complaints.

The deadline for school boards to adopt their policy is January 1, 2023. School boards must review the district’s school branding in place at the time the policy is adopted to ensure compliance with the policy. VSBA has added this new, required model policy (F2) to our model policy manual (new VSBA model policy). The substance of the AOE model policy and the VSBA model policy is identical.

Community Navigator Pilot Program

The VPA is excited to be one of nine partners in the Community Navigator Pilot Program that is to support BIPOC, Women, and Rural areas with additional support for small business knowledge and innovation. As part of the program, the VPA helped distribute $65,000 in “mini-monies” directly to school programs (related press release, April 2022) around the state.

Equity Problems of Practice Consultancy Meetings

As a part of the ongoing commitment to addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion, the VSBA, VPA, VSA, conduct equity problems of practice consultancy meetings. Each organization has opportunities to bring a given policy, procedure, issue, or process to the group of staff at the Associations for collective feedback using an equity lens and consultancy protocol.

Affinity Spaces and Networking Opportunities

The Vermont education community has multiple opportunities for networking and affinity spaces related to equity, inclusion, and belonging. Connection and relationships is one of the most important parts of this work. Please ensure that you and your learning community are aware of the opportunities to connect with others around the state.

Superintendent/Assistant Superintendent Networking Spaces

The Leadership in Equity and Anti-Racism Drop-In is a virtual space held for superintendents to share experiences, resources, and problems of practice in advancing educational equity in their systems each month. This is a VSA member benefit for superintendents and assistant superintendents.

Nationally, women are underrepresented in the superintendency and face unique challenges, including both explicit and implicit biases on the job. The Women in the Superintendency Network is new this year for VSA superintendents who identify as women to gather, network, and discuss leadership challenges and opportunities.

In Support of Educational Leaders of Color in Vermont

“A Place of Our Own”- An Affinity Group for Vermont Administrators of Color (a VPA member benefit). This group provides an opportunity for BIPOC administrators, working in predominantly white schools, to come together and share experiences, learn from and support each other through triumphs and challenges. The sharing of stories, experiences, ideas, successes and lots of laughter, provide a place for healing and growth that allows for racial equity transformation. Additionally the affinity group has become a wonderful place to network, make state-wide connections, as well as providing leadership and guidance on issues of educational equity. The group is facilitated by Bonnie Johnson-Aten, long-time educational leader in the Burlington School District and beyond. The group can be connected with by emailing Bonnie Johnson-Aten

In Support of LGBTQ+ Educational Leaders in Vermont

“A Place of Our Own”- An Affinity group for LGBTQIA+ Administrators (a VPA member benefit). This group provides an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ administrators and athletic directors to come together and share experiences, learn from and support each other. The sharing of stories, experiences, ideas, successes, challenges, and lots of laughter, provide a safe and secure place. This group has found that similar issues come up, no matter where the work is in Vermont. Additionally, this affinity space has become a wonderful place to network and make state-wide connections, as well as provide leadership and guidance on LGBTQIA+ issues. The group is facilitated by Kevin Dirth, former Superintendent of the Maple Run Unified Schools and long-time educator in Vermont. You can connect by emailing Kevin at:

Vermont Education Equity Collective

In the 2021-22 school year, the VPA and VSA helped connect equity coordinators and related roles from districts and schools around the state in a monthly drop-in. The group is now called the Vermont Education Equity Collective (VEEC) and has meetings planned for the 2022-23 school year. If your school or district has someone working as an equity coordinator, please connect them by emailing either Wilmer Chavarria at and/or Erin Maguire at

Vermont Educators of Color Association

The Vermont Educators of Color Association in their own words: “A grassroots group working to build relationships and make change for educators of color in Vermont. We are creating a space to gather, connect, and heal!” This group is available to help support all educators of color in Vermont.” Their work includes their recently developed Vision Document for Sustaining Educators of Color in VT (which includes contact information).

Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network

The Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network in their own words: “We are students from all over Vermont joining together for racial equity and justice in all VT schools. With our voices, we can and will make a difference. We hope to undertake projects to actively make changes in our schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade, educate ourselves and our communities about anti-racism, promote honest dialogue and ensure the voices of students and educators of color are heard.”

Education Justice Coalition of Vermont

The Education Justice Coalition of Vermont in their own words: “We are a statewide coalition led by a multicultural and multigenerational group including: people of color from various racial and ethnic groups, anti-poverty, disability rights advocates, and LGBTQIA advocates. Our coalition includes elders, students, parents, educators, and organizations. Our coalition is led by a group of core members and receives partnership and wisdom from advisors and organizational coalition partners.”


The number of resources available to school communities in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion is vast. We encourage members to network, reach out, and seek learning and understanding well beyond what is listed below.

Archived VPA/VSA/VSBA Webinars

Equity Audits

Educational organizations conduct equity audits to understand assets and growth areas related to providing students with equitable opportunities and access. Ideally, an equity audit process consists of a comprehensive review of a district’s quantitative and qualitative data. Here is a sample equity audit tool for consideration:

Educational Leaders

School Boards

Reimagining School Board Leadership: Actions for Equity (August, 2021) and Reimagining School Board Leadership: Actions for Equity Supplemental Guide. Starting the Conversation (August 2021). This resource “was a collaboration between NSBA’s Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education (DIRE) initiative and Center for Safe Schools and focused on acknowledging and understanding current events and the historical issues of systemic racism in America. This resource established a call for school boards to rise to the current challenges our school systems are facing to transform public education, with a focus on equitable access to world-class education for every student.”

Diversifying the Educator Workforce Efforts/Resources