SEON sustainable energy outreach network receives Vermont Community Grant for Building Science in the community

Vermont Community Foundation – $5,000 Grant

Dear Guy,

I am pleased to share the news that the Nonprofit Capacity Building review committee of the Vermont Community Foundation has approved your application for a grant of $5,000.00. Congratulations! Please note the funds can only be used for consultant fees incurred after the date of the grant and may not be used for fiscal sponsorship fees.

The paperwork and check for your grant will be mailed in the next two weeks. Please let us know if you have questions.

Please reply to this email to confirm that you received this message. We appreciate your assistance in making sure our messages are being delivered. Thank you!


Jennifer Barrett

Senior Grants Specialist

Vermont Community Foundation

3 Court Street, Middlebury, VT 05753

(802) 388-3355 ext. 222


About Your Project

Project Name*

Vision-setting, policy & planning and initial operational objectives to realize statewide expansion

Project Description*

Provide a one sentence description of what the work will accomplish and how. Note: Your answer may be used in publications. For example: “We will build our donor support base so that we may increase our enrichment programming for incarcerated youth.”

To safeguard SEON’s organizational stability by fostering a strong community of participants, supporters, and engaged partners for our educational programs and prepare SEON to expand its current delivery of an essential knowledge base of high-performance building techniques with the goal of reaching professionals in other areas of Vermont.

Amount Requested*


If awarded, what % of your project budget will VCF grant dollars support?*


Geographic Area – Town/City*

What Vermont town(s) will be directly served by your project? Please keep your answer concise and refer to the following guidelines:

• For multiple towns, use commas to separate the town names.

• If your project spans state borders, limit your answer only to Vermont.

• If your project has broader implementation (multiple counties or statewide), you do not need to mention each town. Instead, briefly outline the geographic scope.

Our project will initially focus on expansion plans in 6 counties: Windham, Windsor, Orleans, Lamoille, Chittenden, and Addison and then expand to the rest of the state;

Which of these areas of work apply to your project?*

Refer to the guidelines at the top of this form for more information. You may choose only one. Choices

  • Strategic planning and initiatives to clarify mission, goals, and performance measures
  • Financial sustainability planning
  • Merger planning and implementation
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion policy development and implementation
  • Board and staff training as described above Other If you selected other, please describe the work proposed.

SEON will use the grant funds to work with the consulting firm, Heurista to enhance the principles identified during recent strategic planning. This work will take the form of a dynamic business plan, including policies, program assessments, and communication plans that will allow SEON to grow by building a larger and more engaged network of participants, supporters, and engaged partners for our educational programs. The business plan will identify the yearly deliverables to this growing community and plan for the need to scale as SEON adds educational and networking opportunities in other counties in the state. It will forecast the resources necessary to support the expansion (including staff), the marketing/fundraising plans, internal financial and data recording systems, and board development

The business plan will be updated annually and include five-year re-assessments that will guide SEON’s expansion statewide over the next 15 years. SEON’s increased capacity will impact Vermont’s ability to recruit, develop, and retain high-performance professionals in the residential building industry helping the state achieve existing initiatives to improve livability for Vermont residents.


Explain the goal(s) of the project. How will this process help to improve the work of your organization?

The primary goal of the project is to create a Business Plan that will guide SEON’s growth and influence over the next 15 years and ensures our sustainability

Establish training programs and professional networks for all regions of the state

Develop policies that govern the quality of program/curricula and delivery

Identify critical resources and forecast budget growth

Establish fundraising and marketing plans

Include an action plan for board growth and development

Activities & Timeline*

• Describe the work that you will do. Please list and describe the tasks and/or steps planned for the work proposed, and note any outputs (reports, plans, or other deliverables) you expect to produce.

• State your project timeline. Please note that grant funds cannot cover activities that have already taken place; keep the notification timeline in mind as you prepare your application.

An online survey of key participants to understand the current state for SEON and

investigate similarities and differences of opinion.

A four-hour online or in-person work session to meet key participants and understand the

history, current state and anticipated future for SEON.

A teleconference one week later to receive additional information, ideas or direction.

Heurista prepares and delivers a written recommendations report summarizing the

findings from the work session and proposing a prioritized order of next steps, including

timeframes and budgets when possible.

A teleconference to discuss the recommendations report. Modifications will be made, if


Three working teleconferences at one-month intervals to confirm progress toward the stated goals.

The final call will include instructions for maintaining the recommendations

report as a dynamic working plan for the work that will take months or years to complete.

With this end in mind, SEON will start to park ideas in three five-year plans, creating working documents that respond to the priorities, speed of progress, and changes SEON will face in the near and distant future. This will establish a dynamic business plan that will carry SEON into the future.

At the time a contract is signed, we are looking to complete the project in 5 months.


What are you hoping this project will accomplish – i.e., what will be different for your organization because of this work? How will you measure your results?

The result of this grant will be a blueprint to build a sustainable organization.  It will position SEON for the future. Specifically SEON needs to establish systems for organizational development to advance workforce development and community educations in

Documented governance and management plans

Scheduled re-assessment and plan update processes

Proactive budget-planning and alignment

Specific calendars for communication and activities to build and sustain a strong network of course participants, network members, donors, partners and other stakeholders in the SEON network

Measurement of Results

Growth in courses being taught at entry and advanced building science levels

Increase in membership

Established measures of financial sustainability

Increase in grant funding

Increase in career center enrollment (daytime and adult)

Increase in community outreach programs

Timeliness* Why is now the right time for your organization to take on this work?

SEON has built a statewide reputation for quality programming in SE Vermont, but now with the retirement of key individuals, we need to establish systems of delivery and leverage our assets to broader regions within the state. No other organization in the state has our vision and experience that encompasses recruitment, development, and retention for the residential building industry.

Consultant* This grant program funds only professional consultant costs to facilitate the work you describe.

While not required at this time, please share the name of the consultant if you have chosen one. Include their contact information and website if available. If you have not yet chosen a consultant please tell us how you plan to identify one.

SEON looks to engage the services of Heurista  The company offices have moved from Asheville, NC to Saxtons River, VT.  Heurista specializes in donor relations and building nonprofits capacity to create and sustain a broad network of engaged supporters.

Considering a merger? (If applicable) Please explain the history and timeline of the conversations to date.

Bonus Words (Optional) What else should we know about the project that we didn’t ask? Character Limit: 900

The term high performance building, is the industry’s phrase for construction that gives consideration to energy efficiency, water and vapor management, carbon absorbing products, indoor air quality, safety, health, and aging in place. Traditionally this refers to homes that have achieved and exceeded construction standards, i.e. net zero, passive house, Home Performance with Energy Star, all electric. 

Letter of Support (REQUIRED ATTACHMENT)* Please attach documentation of board support for the work you are proposing (not for the proposal itself). This can be either a letter from board chair(s) or copies of board minutes that reflect approval of the proposed effort. Please try to combine multiple files into one upload.

File Size Limit: 5 MB

Project Budget – Itemized (REQUIRED ATTACHMENT)* Attach a copy of your itemized project budget. You should include both expenses and revenue, including pending and secured support. (Sample budget documents can be downloaded from the Community Foundation’s website – visit our Online Grants Center for more details.)

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Clayton