GFC receives VDH grant to support youth programming

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. — Greater Falls Connections (GFC), located in Bellows Falls, Vt., recently received a nearly $74,000 Health Disparities Grant from the Vermont Health Department (VHD) and Vermont Community Foundation (VCF).

VHD partnered with the VCF to assemble a community review committee who evaluated all proposals. VHD received 48 applications with a total request of more than $8.8 million, according to Song Nguyen, MPH, Manager of Health Equity at VHD.

“We were unable to award each applicant, but are able to award 21 organizations totaling about $3.5 million. Evaluations from the committee were presented to the VHD Health Equity Integration Team to determine the funding amount,” said Nguyen.

The grant will allow GFC to work with Friends For Change (FFC), a democratically run, youth-led and adult guided, trauma-informed, and play-based club in Bellows Falls, with Passion Empowerment Projects (PEP), which is designed to engage youth and community members impacted by generational trauma and substance abuse. The PEPs will allow them to share or teach their peers about something they’re passionate about while focusing on ways to heal or experience joy together.

Additionally, the grant will allow GFC and FFC to be involved in the development of the Community Opportunity Center, which is currently in the planning stages and has wide community support.

The grant will also enable GFC’s director to support the advisory board and staff on creating a more equitable representation on the board to ensure we are inclusive of the most-impacted community members. This will include updating organizational policies and practices and the design of mini-workshops for the board that are developmentally and culturally appropriate for historically marginalized populations.

GFC Director Laura Schairbaum said, “We are so pleased to receive this grant, since it will help us to really reach out to and involve youth and community members who are most impacted by substance use disorder, which will make our work that much more impactful. This grant will allow us to continue our strategic goal of empowering and building strong leadership within our coalition. And, it will help us hear from the voices we want to hear most.”

For more information about GFC, visit

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