The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) invites communities interested in charting a path to a more prosperous and self-sufficient future to participate in the 2018 Climate Economy Model Communities Program. A collaboration of VCRD, Efficiency Vermont, Vermont’s utilities and other partners, the Program works with two communities annually to help build and implement locally developed plans that increase economic opportunity, affordability, and resilience in the face of climate change. The Program kicked off in 2017 with Pownal and Middlebury being the first two communities to join the effort.

 “There is a global race to develop the strategies that strengthen the economy while also addressing climate change. Through this program we are excited to work with Vermont communities that see the potential for leadership in a dynamic economic transition that is already underway. Businesses and communities that develop new models for the emerging climate economy will thrive in the years ahead,” noted Paul Costello, Executive Director of VCRD. “The Model Communities Program also provides an important opportunity to address the needs of low and middle-income Vermonters. Reducing the energy burden faced by those who can least afford it is a core goal of this work.”

 “Investing in efficiency and energy transformation provides communities with opportunities to save money, increase health and comfort, and become more resilient. The Model Communities Program approach allows communities to customize solutions that address their specific needs and strengthen their economic position in the face of climate change,” said Karen Glitman, Director of Efficiency Vermont. “Efficiency Vermont is excited to be a partner in this important effort and to be a part of the solutions for the participating communities.”

  “As a result of our participation in the Model Communities Program, there are now Task Forces focused on economic development and the revitalization of existing buildings, building a local agricultural network, growing recreation and trails, and beautifying Pownal,” noted Shannon Barsotti, a member of the Pownal Planning Commission who served as the local Chair of the process. “The community meetings this summer allowed us to come together to grapple with some big questions about the future of our town. The program also gave the many regional and state partners who participated a much deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing Pownal.”

 Project Director Jon Copans of VCRD released a Request-For-Proposals soliciting applications from communities that are interested in participating in the Model Communities Program for 2018. Communities will have until December 18 to apply. A copy of the RFP and more details about the program can be found here (

 The Climate Economy Model Communities Program is made possible by support from VLITE, the Sustainable Futures Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, the Bay and Paul Foundations, the Oakland Foundation, the High Meadows Fund, and VCRD’s generous supporters. The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit organization charged by the federal farm bill to act as a neutral convener at both the local and policy level supporting the progress of Vermont communities.