Community Support From Kingdom Trails

NEK-Earlier in the year, in the midst of the pandemic, the Kingdom Trail Association gave out twenty five thousand dollars to essential agencies in the NEK struggling during Covid-19 Pandemic. The Association continues to surprise the state of Vermont after announcing giving another twenty five thousand dollars to their surrounding communities.

Lilias Ide, Kingdom Trails Association Communication and Programming Manager, says that this was the second year of the association carrying out their mini grant program. They established the program in 2019, giving twenty five thousand dollars worth of funding to nine different organizations in Burke, Lyndonville, East Haven, and Kirby.

 

This year, the mini grants went to eight different organizations such as the East Haven Library, Kingdom East School District, Vermont's Children Theater, NEK Backcountry, Cobleigh Public Library, Rural Edge Support & Services at Home, Town of Lyndon, and H.O.P.E.

"We established the program as another way for Kingdom Trails to give back to a community that provides so much for us, so you know, mutual support. There are so many different programs that really need support," Ide explains.

After speaking with Jamie Brown, the Office Manager at H.O.P.E., she says that the mini grant will go towards their weekly backpack program. The program had to run a little differently this year due to the effects of Covid-19. But the grant will be helping out tremendously with the cost of food. Brown expressed her appreciation for the grant, explaining that the program does so much for the community.

"This year, honestly, we weren't necessarily expecting to receive it because we knew that there were so many worthy and deserving programs out there and non-profits that are hurting for funds. It's a tough year for everybody, and the requests that we get have only increased. So for them to choose us, I mean, it was amazing."

Each organization gets a different amount of money for every grant that was given out to the community. This year's applicants requested seventy thousand dollars in all. This was very surprising to the association due to the fact that there were far less as many applicants last year.

"So last year was the first year, like I said. I am not completely sure how much people applied for, it was far less than this year," Ide goes on to say.

Ide explains that the number of applicants must have spiked due to the pandemic, as well as more people finding out about the program.

"Then also because it's been a pretty rough year for everyone, so we are really glad we can do this. We will continue to do this for as long as we possibly can," Ide goes on to say.

The funding for the mini grants comes completely from the organization itself. They bring in the money over time, from things like selling merchandise to the community, as well as their membership program. It becomes a little tricky when trying to determine who gets what as far as funding goes.

"Obviously we want to be fair, so there's criteria, all of them are scored based upon certain criteria," Ide said. 

The criteria consist of, community need, impact, sustainability of the project, diversity, and public support. In order for any applicant to apply they must show a solid work plan to make the project happen. The association tried to divide the funds in a way that was even, based on how each organization met the criteria. After the funding had been established, the association asked each organization to submit a report on how the project went for them.

"It's a google form with questions that we send to them. So we can see whether the project was successful, whether it happened, and how the funding worked for them. Other than that, we just hope they're successful with their project," Ide explains. 

The Kingdom Trails Association loves to see the results of these projects so that they can put all the progress up on their web page for the community to see. The response from the community is always a positive one. The association also wants organizations to know that they can re-apply for the mini grants for next year's twenty five thousand dollars.

The association will continue to help their communities in various ways throughout next year. The big challenge for the grant committee was informing people how to properly apply online this year. But the takeaway is being able to see those reflections from applicants.

"To be able to say that we know we have given as much as we possibly can to the community. To be able to point to that, and say we are giving back to our community as much as possible, I think is the biggest takeaway for us," Ide explains with content.