Supporting local leadership, protecting voting rights for all Vermonters, and providing trustworthy news in both new and proven ways.
The need to protect and strengthen our democratic systems has never been greater than it is today.
In the vital work of informing the public and supporting democracy, these nonprofits are on the front lines.
Vermont Journalism Trust
Traditional print journalism has dangerously downsized — but nonprofit news providers are pioneering new ways of delivering trustworthy information and holding public servants accountable. Among the leaders is VTDigger.com, a project of the nonprofit Vermont Journalism Trust:
- Begun in 2009 with virtually no budget, the website now employs Vermont’s largest news-gathering staff: 26 editors, reporters and photographers, plus a rotating cohort of 3-4 interns.
- Some 10,000 people donate to support VTDigger, and 41,000 subscribe to its free digital newsletters. A business staff of eight works to build long-term sustainability.
- From 270,000 in 2018, average monthly readership grew to 600,000 in 2022.
Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS are now Vermont Public, building on decades of high-quality news, information and educational programming:
- With its Vermont This Week program, general news coverage, State House reporting, special programs and local news coverage, each year Vermont Public provides over 500 hours of news, public affairs and current events broadcasting — all of it free.
- Each election year, Vermont Public produces an online Voter’s Guide, broadcasts candidate debates, and interviews candidates for statewide office.
- Public broadcasting remains a highly trusted source of news and perspective — fighting disinformation and helping to fill the gaps left by the loss of commercial news providers.
Vermont Council on Rural Development
Democracy is renewed from within, as local citizens step up to serve. In communities across the state, the Vermont Council on Rural Development is helping develop a new generation of committed, creative leaders:
- Through a four-month series of facilitated meetings, VCRD’s Community Visit Program engages a wide range of local citizens in working for their town’s vitality and economic development.
- The Community Leadership Program connects and supports almost 3,000 local leaders — not just public officials, but people who contribute in a diversity of ways. The Community Leadership in Action Guide offers tools, tips and strategies to help both new and experienced leaders frame local issues and move projects forward.
- The Vermont Proposition initiative is engaging thousands of Vermonters in developing and advancing a set of transformational goals for the state. The Future of Vermont Action Team, a diverse group recruited from across the state, is channeling the input of thousands of Vermonters into new projects, approaches, concepts and programs.
ACLU of Vermont
Among its priorities, ACLU of Vermont continues to work for voting rights and government accountability:
- Vermont ACLU successfully advocated for legislation that now allows for universal mail-in voting for all registered voters in the state.
- Multiple lawsuits have expanded public access to public records, with more timely disclosure of records on request, and have challenged local officials who threatened to criminalize free speech and exclude citizens from civic participation.
- Vermont ACLU represented the Vermont Journalism Trust (VTDigger.com) before the State Supreme Court in challenging the state’s withholding of public records from the EB-5 program, the largest financial fraud in state history.
Community News Service at UVM
As part of the University of Vermont’s Reporting and Documentary Storytelling program, the Community News Service enables UVM students to work with Vermont print, radio and TV news outlets on reporting and producing materials for publication and broadcast. The program includes:
- Scholarships for summer internships at Vermont Public, VTDigger.com, community papers and other news providers.
- Collaboration with students and teachers at Vermont State University and the Community College of Vermont — and with high schoolers interested in journalism.
- Opportunities to help develop new online platforms and reporting initiatives for local and community news.