Better Places

Burlington's Holiday Market
Burlington's Holiday Market
The Better Places pilot program provides “placemaking” grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 that improve the vitality of state designated downtowns, village centers, new town centers, or neighborhood development areas. The Better Places partnership is a place-based economic development program that: 

•    Revitalizes and improves public spaces in support of local economic and community development efforts
•    Empowers residents to play an active role in shaping their communities, building social capital, and local pride
•    Supports local COVID-19 response and recovery efforts 
•    Advances “quick build” projects that boost confidence, builds partnerships and sparks momentum
•    Improves public health, reduces social isolation, and increases physical activity
•    Stimulates the creative economy and supports public art projects

Learn more about placemaking efforts in Vermont communities on our blog post and sign-up for AARP's monthly virtual placemaking meet ups to connect with other Vermont placemakers. 

Better Places Program Guide

Better Places Application Form

Better Places FAQs

Program Partners

The pilot program is funded and supported by the Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Vermont Arts Council, National Life Group Foundation, the Vermont Department of Health, and the Preservation Trust of Vermont. The program relies on the expertise and generous support of the Better Places Partners that include AARP Vermont, Local Motion, Vermont Agency of Transportation, and Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

Additional Resources

The Department of Housing and Community Development and its partners offers tools, resources, and technical assistance to help communities reimagine and reconfigure their streets, parking areas, and public spaces during COVID-19 and beyond. 

Guidance for Restaurant and Retail Use of Right of Way – The Department of Housing and Community Development worked with the Agency of Transportation on a toolkit to help restaurants and municipalities evaluate whether to make streets, rights of way and other public infrastructure available for outdoor dining. This document provides guidance on how a portion of a state or town public highway can be used on a temporary basis for outdoor eating, retail activities, and social gatherings to help achieve the physical distancing recommendations intended to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Guidance for Demonstration Projects in the State Right of Way – Demonstration projects are a way for communities to evaluate the impact of a roadway change, such as to improve walking, bicycling, transit access, public spaces, and traffic flow, without making a permanent, and often expensive, investment. This guidance document describes the options available, issues that need to be considered, the state approval processes, and provides links to resources with additional information. 

Streets for Success Recorded Online Workshop – Watch a recorded video on how communities are reconfiguring outdoor spaces in Vermont towns for safe dining, shopping, and walking. VTrans, AARP-VT, the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, and local officials in Brattleboro and Fairfax shared how communities are reimagining their public spaces to support COVID recovery efforts. Check out this list of resources and guidance documents to help local officials reimagine thier streets and public spaces.

Vermont Community Development Program – Grants can be used to help communities in deploying the necessary public safety equipment (tents, parklets, outdoor dining, hand sanitizing stations, PPE, etc.) to ensure proper physical distancing to ensure public safety while supporting local businesses in downtowns and village center.

Vermont Arts Council Animating Infrastructure Grant Program – Grants can support community projects that integrate art with infrastructure improvements that help communities improve their livability, walkability, safety, economic vitality, and community vibrancy.

Municipal Planning Grants – Municipal Planning Grants can help communities plan, adapt, and re-imagine public spaces (outside and indoors) in the time of COVID or develop COVID economic adaptation strategies, or produce a marketing plan with signage, decals, public information to encourage proper physical distancing and public safety.

VTrans Bike and Pedestrian ProgramJon Kaplan with VTrans is partnering with Local Motion to offer communities free technical assistance and guidance to communities who are exploring or implementing shared street strategies.

Contact Us

Richard Amore, Planning & Outreach Manager

One National Life Drive
Deane C. Davis Building, 6th Floor
Montpelier, VT 05620-0501

Visit for more inspiration and information on living, working and doing business in Vermont.

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