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Better Connections (BC) Program

Grants to Vermont Municipalities to Improve Transportation,
Economic Development, and Water Quality

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD)

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

02/19/21 4:00 PM


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Grants to Vermont municipalities in eligible regions to develop plans to enhance transportation options and economic vitality in local communities. A Letter of Intent must be submitted prior to applying. Funding is also intended for stormwater management projects that improve water quality. Grants are available to Vermont municipalities outside of Chittenden County.

The Better Connections Grant Program encourages municipalities to proactively coordinate land use decisions with transportation investments that build community resilience, with a particular emphasis on projects that support the implementation of innovative transportation and land use concepts. The Program works in partnership with municipalities and other stakeholders to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Provide safe, multi-modal, and resilient transportation systems that supports the Vermont economy.
  • Support downtown and village economic development and revitalization efforts.
  • Lead directly to project implementation (demonstrated by community capacity and readiness to implement).

Priority consideration will be given to projects that:

  1. Are located within (or adjacent to) a state-designated downtown, village center, neighborhood development area, new town center, or growth center. (To determine if your community has a state designation, visit the Vermont Planning Atlas).
  2. Represent inter-municipal efforts. 
  3. Support public health policies, increase access to healthy food and/or opportunities for physical activity in the community.
  4. Support water quality improvements that reduce nutrient and sediment pollution (by applying for a Clean Water Fund as part of the Better Connections application). 

Eligible Projects:

Awarded projects must be consistent with the goals of the regional and municipal plan. Program grants are for master planning projects that inform local policy decisions, identify priorities, guide future investment, and facilitate the implementation of projects. Projects should address the program purpose and objectives to improve the multimodal transportation system, downtown and village revitalization, and lead to project implementation. 

All projects must include an effective community visioning process and robust stakeholder involvement. The program funds various types of master planning for regions, downtowns and villages, neighborhoods, and streets and corridors. See Program story map ( and program website for examples of prior projects funded by the Better Connections program.

Master plans are specific in focus and they present a community-driven vision of the physical environment for a region/downtown/village center/neighborhood/corridor for the next 10 years. Master plans engage the community in a process to evaluate ways to enhance their community through improved multimodal connectivity, active transportation and complete streets, access management, traffic calming, parking, wayfinding, rehabilitation of buildings, or redevelopment of sites, housing, land use, stormwater management, and zoning bylaw and form-based code development. In addition to the physical master plan, there can be a corresponding economic and marketing plan to ensure the market viability of the proposed improvements and inform the municipality’s capital planning. 

A successful master plan will include an extensive and diverse public engagement process with multiple public meetings, workshops, charrettes, and/or pop-up events. The plans are action-oriented and layout a strategic implementation plan for both short-term and long-term public and private investments in the defined project area.

Program grants and required match can be spent only on “direct project related costs.” Eligible costs include consultant costs, postage, travel, supplies, and printing. 

For more information about Additional Funding Opportunities, see here:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 176430

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

It is anticipated that the program will fund up to 3 projects per grant cycle, which runs every other year.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Awards may range between $35,000 and $67,500. Additionally, applicants will have the opportunity to apply for up to $30,000 from the Agency of Natural Resources Clean Water Fund (with no local match) to support Better Connections projects that improve water quality by reducing nutrient and sediment pollution.

Term of Contract:

Grantees generally have eighteen (18) months to complete projects.

- Project started: June 1, 2021
- Project completed: December 1, 2022

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must be a Vermont municipality (town, city, or village) outside of Chittenden County.

For the purposes of the Program, a municipality is defined by 24 V.S.A §4303 (12) ( Under this definition an incorporated village is not considered a separate municipality unless the village adopts its own village plan and one or more bylaws either before, concurrently with, or subsequent to such action by the town.

Inter-municipal efforts are encouraged, and multiple municipalities may apply as a consortium. If applying as a consortium, all towns must have a confirmed municipal plan by February 19, 2021. Consortium applications must address a shared issue and identify a lead municipality to administer the project. If applying as a consortium, each town must submit a resolution, designating the same local project manager and showing support from the legislative body of the municipality, such as selectboard, village trustees, or city council.

Only one project per municipality can be funded in each grant cycle. If a municipality is awarded funds in the two previous grant years, the municipality is not eligible to apply in this year's grant cycle.

If a municipality is awarded an ACCD Municipal Planning Grant in the same year, the municipality cannot apply for a Better Connections Program grant.

Municipalities are ineligible to receive funds if they are (a) suspended or debarred by the Federal Government; (b) delinquent in submitting their subrecipient annual reports; or (c) delinquent in submitting their Single Audit Reports (if required).

The Program funds eligible planning activities only. The following are not eligible uses for Program funds:
- Right-of-way acquisition
- Detailed engineering
- Construction
- Land Surveying
- Project Scoping
- Political Activities
- Wastewater or sewer system design
- Construction of transportation system facilities
- Capital oriented implementation actions
- Projects inconsistent with the goals of the Municipal or Regional Plan
- Regional Plans and Municipal Plans
- Municipal-wide bylaws and standards
- Municipal staff time and administrative costs
- Projects located within Chittenden County
- Support plans, bylaws, and policies that violate the State or Federal Fair Housing Act. Fair Housing Training is available to all grantees and is encouraged for projects which relate to housing and/or revisions to zoning bylaws.

Equipment purchases and indirect costs, including general administrative overhead, are not eligible costs. Costs incurred prior to signing the Program grant agreement with VTrans are not eligible project costs.

Pre-Application Information:

2021-2022​ Grant Timeline:
- Letter of Intent deadline: January 15, 2021 at 4:00 pm
- Application deadline: February 19, 2021 at 4:00 pm
- RPC confirmation of municipal planning process: February 19, 2021
- Award decisions: March 19, 2021

Interested applicants may contact Better Connections program managers if they have any questions regarding project management before submitting the Letter of Intent.

Application materials must be submitted electronically.

The Program requires a minimum 10% local cash match of the total project cost. Municipalities may not use other federal or state funding sources to cover the local match. In-kind services are not eligible to satisfy the minimum 10% local cash match requirement.

The Program is a reimbursement program. Applicants submit quarterly invoices for completed work and VTrans pays the state and federal share of the total.

Vermont Planning Atlas:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Email applications to

Program Contacts:
Jackie Cassino, Planning Coordinator
Policy, Planning & Intermodal Development
Vermont Agency of Transportation
219 N. Main St.
Barre, VT 05641

Richard Amore, Planning & Project Outreach Manager
Community Planning + Revitalization
Agency of Commerce and Community Development
One National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05620-0501

Please contact Shaun Gilpin, Housing Policy Specialist for the Department of Housing and Community Development at if you’re interested in participating in a Fair Housing training.

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Vermont: Statewide, excluding Chittenden County

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