YP Grant Awardees

“Let us help you help yourself”: Awardees Announced for the First-Ever Round of SoVTYPs Professional Development Grant Program

Windham Region, VT— The Professional Development Grant Program is the newest offering for Southern Vermont Young Professional members. The Southern Vermont Young Professionals (SoVTYPs) is a workforce initiative of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC). The SoVTYP mission is to attract, retain and support Young Professionals in Southern Vermont by providing engaging opportunities and networking through social and educational events, and volunteer opportunities. The pilot grant program was developed to support YP members who are advancing, or pivoting, their career by providing financial assistance to help them achieve those career goals. The first round of applications were due December 1st, 2020, with awardees notified on December 15th, 2020.

This first-ever grant program offers up to $500 to SoVTYP members through a competitive grant application process run by a volunteer selection committee. Some examples of eligible grant uses include acquiring a professional certification, continuing education or skills training through a local or online college, or attending professional conferences. These funds must be used for the advancement of the individual’s current profession or to pivot toward new career goals.

“Due to the new limitations of hosting in person events during a pandemic, the SoVTYP Steering Committee identified grants as a way to  use funding available to give it back to our YP members and our community,” said Katie Knaeble, Co-Chair of the Southern Vermont Young Professionals and local workforce development professional. “There might be no better time than now for folks to take a workshop, seminar, or course, or enroll in a formal training program. Professional development is a great opportunity to sharpen current skills, learn new skills, build confidence and generally feel more satisfied with what one is doing. We want to support our members with taking that step to better themselves and in hopes that this will increase their commitment and engagement in our community. We feel good knowing that we have helped some of our YP members reach their goal that they might not otherwise would have been able to afford without the $500 assistance.”

Christopher Lukasik, one of the YPs on the selection committee, explains the selection process: “The Committee reviewed a number of competitive applications during this round of Professional Development Grant applications. We scored based on the applicants’ abilities to reflect how their professional development goals would directly benefit their own advancement and the advancement of Southern Vermont.”  Lukasik noted that he was “pleased to see that a number of high quality applications were submitted for our inaugural grant. Speaking for myself, I had a tough time deciding on who to select for these grants as each applicant had very clear goals and were able to connect themselves as a valuable resource in the future of Southern Vermont (and I know that other committee members felt the same).”

The first round of grants were awarded to Alyssa Pelow, entrepreneur, to go towards a Start Up Lab at Hannah Grimes Center in Keene, NH; Jon Saccoccio of JAS Architectural Workshop to go towards a Certificate in Historic Preservation from Boston Architectural College in Boston, MA; and Kaitlin Haskins, LPN, to go towards an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) from Vermont Technical College.

“Receiving the Professional Development Grant from the SoVTYP program has given me the opportunity to dive deeper into the journey of becoming a small business owner,” offered Alyssa Pelow. I’ll be participating in the Start Up Lab through the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship. This course will provide me with tools, resources and a network of other local entrepreneurs who will offer their knowledge and experience on the business start up process. I’m excited to have this time to refine my business plan into tangible ideas that I could carry out in my community. Because of this financial support from the SoVT YP program, I will now be given a more approachable way to test the waters of business ownership through a structured program. Thank you for giving me a chance to help contribute to the future of Southern Vermont’s local economy and hopefully, beyond!”

“Receiving the SOVTYP professional development grant has enabled me the opportunity to expand the services that I provide to the southern Vermont community,” stated Jon Saccoccio, JAS Architectural Workshop. “I am the owner of an architectural firm that focuses on rehabilitation of historic preservation projects.  Boston Architectural College’s Certificate in Historic Preservation will provide me with the knowledge to continue to execute these services to the benefit of our neighbors. This program will focus on the conservation of built and natural heritage and the fundamental principles of preservation practice, such as architectural history, law, and adaptive reuse. The significance of Southern Vermont Young Professional group’s financial contribution to my professional continuing education cannot be overstated.  This group also builds a network of young people that is vital to the success of our community.  I’m glad to be a member of SoVTYP and contribute to this network and community through my architectural practice.”

“The financial award I received through the SoVTYPs Professional Development Grant Program will provide much-appreciated support toward my tuition balance as I complete my fifth and final semester of nursing school at Vermont Technical College in Brattleboro,” offered Katilin Haskins, LPN. “Upon graduation from the nurses training program in May 2021, I will take the NCLEX-RN national board exam in order to advance from my current standing as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) to registered nurse (RN), allowing for more career opportunities in a greater variety of medical settings. Becoming an RN will give me increased professional autonomy and a wider scope of practice, empowering me to care for my patients even more effectively than as an LPN.”

Haskins pointed out, “In 2018, after working in communications and marketing for eight years, I made the decision to pivot my career to nursing. Now, after taking prerequisite classes at the Community College of Vermont in Brattleboro, enduring the notoriously difficult first year of nursing school, passing my LPN board exam, and getting my first job as an LPN at Thompson House, I’m happy to be approaching my next milestone of graduating with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Southern Vermont is in need of well-trained nurses, and I’m grateful to the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation for seeing the benefit in funding professional development and education for new nurses in the region. Thank you, SoVTYPs, for supporting my new career in nursing,” declared Haskins.

The next round of applications are due March 1st, 2021. Letters of interest to apply, are due February 22, 2021. For more information on the program and how to apply, please visit https://brattleborodevelopment.com/professional-development-grant-program/ or contact Sarah Lang, slang@brattleborodevelopment.com


About Southern Vermont Young Professionals

The Southern Vermont Young Professionals is a workforce initiative of Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC). Our mission is to attract, retain and support Young Professionals in Southern Vermont by providing engaging opportunities and networking through social and educational events, and volunteer opportunities. The YP initiative is increasingly important to Southern Vermont’s businesses and communities as a strategic approach to growing the size of the region’s workforce and increasing the number of younger households in the region. For more information please visit: https://brattleborodevelopment.com/sovtyps/

The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that serves as a catalyst for industrial and commercial growth throughout Southeastern Vermont, including Windham County and the towns of Readsboro, Searsburg, Winhall and Weston. BDCC serves as the State of Vermont’s certified Regional Development Corporation (RDC) for the greater Windham County area. BDCC is one of 12 RDCs throughout Vermont. 
This BDCC activity was made possible in part by a grant from the State of Vermont through the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. For more information visit: https://brattleborodevelopment.com/

Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) is an affiliate of BDCC that grew from a 2008 grassroots effort, initiated by BDCC, to understand and create long term strategies needed to reverse the economic decline of the Windham Region and plan for the economic impacts from the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. In 2014, after multiple years of regional input, education and data gathering, SeVEDS received federal approval for the Windham Region’s federally recognized S.M.A.R.T. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). SeVEDS partnered with Bennington’s Regional Economic Development Group in 2018 to develop the 2019 Southern Vermont Zone CEDS. For more information visit: www.seveds.com