Skip to main content

Better Places

Burlington's Holiday MarketBetter Places is a non-competitive, community matching grant program empowering Vermonters to create inclusive and vibrant public places serving Vermont’s designated downtowns, village centers, new town centers, or neighborhood development areas. The program provides one-on-one project coaching, local fundraising support, and two to one (2:1) matching grants ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 to make your community-led placemaking ideas happen. 

How it Works
Better Places uses a method of grantmaking called “crowdgranting”.  Crowdgranting combines crowdfunding – the practice of funding a project with small donations from a large number of people – paired with a matching grant from the State. Crowdgranting builds local awareness, excitement, and shared investment in community-led placemaking projects. Better Places participants will:

  1. Complete pre-flight check, then apply, and receive project approval
  2. Work with a Patronicity project coach to launch crowdfunding campaign and raise 33% local match
  3. Receive Better Places 2:1 matching grant from the State
  4. Implement project and celebrate success

Better Places offers one-on-one consultation to interested participants to determine project readiness and compatibility for this program. All participants have access to educational tools and resources, including a personal crowdfunding coach, the Better Places program guide, the Better Places Placemaking Toolkit, Getting Started one pager, and Crowdfunding Strategy guide. 

Better Places is a place-based economic development program that: 

  • Activates and revitalizes public spaces to build vibrant communities
  • Empowers residents to play an active role in shaping their community
  • Advances “quick build” projects which boost community confidence and local pride
  • Builds inclusive and welcoming spaces for social connection, health, and recreation
  • Increases integrity of and equitable access to green spaces
  • Stimulates the creative economy and provides equitable access to the arts
  • Spurs entrepreneurship, partnerships, and public and private investment
  • Connects viable projects to individual contributors and matching fund

The Better Places program is currently accepting projects.  Please fill out the Pre-flight form and the Better Places team will reach out to discuss your project idea.     

Those who are interested in the Better Places program can learn more by viewing the program launch webinar presentation and recording with closed captioning

In addition, learn more about placemaking efforts in Vermont communities on our blog post, our annual report, our recent article on VNRC's blog, Seven Ways to Create Better Places, and sign up for AARP's monthly virtual placemaking meet ups to connect with other Vermont placemakers.  In addition, explore the 2020 Better Places pilot projects here.

Program Partners

The Better Places program is managed by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health, the Vermont Community Foundation, and Patronicity. The program relies on the expertise and generous support of the Better Places Partners that include the Vermont Arts Council, AARP Vermont, Local Motion, Preservation Trust of Vermont, 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. 

Placemaking Tools and Resources - Resources on getting started with placemaking projects, best practices, health and wellness projects, small business-centric advice, street, pop-up, and demonstration projects, winter placemaking, parklets, creative placemaking, and funding resources.  Also, check out our placemaking 101 presentation on Vermont placemaking efforts.

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. 

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.