Crowdfunding Available for NH Projects

New Hampshire businesses, farmers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community initiatives: Do you have an incredible project just waiting to happen? Want to grow your organization, our community, and the local economy, but don’t have access to capital?

The Local Crowd Upper Valley is a rewards-based local crowdfunding platform that helps communities invest in local businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and initiatives that are mission-driven social enterprises. If your organization contributes to the community and could use a lift, apply to be part of a Route 11 Corridor cohort of campaigns.
Vital Communities is partnering with TLC Monadnock to bring local investment and capital access to the Route 11 Corridor of New Hampshire thanks to funding from USDA Rural Development.

Submit a proposal for 2021 crowdfunding campaigns if:

  • Your organization is based in Claremont, Newport, Kearsarge Region
  • Your project is budgeted for under $10,000 .
  • Your project is simple, achievable, and will generate excitement in your community (and, if part of a bigger project, has stand-alone value.)
  • Your project will create an economic and/or social benefit to your business and the community
  • You are able to invest time to build a successful fundraising campaign

Sample project ideas: Farm infrastructure, renewable energy installation, community garden or art project, vehicle to expand nonprofit service, capital to launch a new rural enterprise, food business equipment

Submit your project proposal by December 1, 2020

The Local Crowd Upper Valley will select up to eight projects to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community. Selected proposals will launch their campaigns in 2021, with support and guidance from The Local Crowd Advisors.
Campaign guidelines here.
 

The Local Crowd details:
You (project/campaign creator) will need to:

  • Form a Campaign Team to actively promote your fundraising project
  • Work closely with the The Local Crowd team to leverage training, marketing, and community outreach tools
  • Adhere to the keys of success promoted by The Local Crowd platform:  YOU share with your personal network. YOU make it happen.

You will receive:

  • Support from The Local Crowd team to run a successful funding campaign
  • Access to business development support from project partners including NH SBDC and SBA
  • Marketing and outreach support to spread the word about your project
  • Free Crowdfunding Readiness Assessment ($85 value)
  • Funds raised via the crowdfunding campaign for the designated project (less platform and credit card fees)
  • Opportunity to reduce platform fees if you meet campaign milestones

Community. Connection. Capital.

Special Sessions for VT & NH Legislators

Vital Communities is hosting four virtual meetings for legislators in the Upper Valley region, from both New Hampshire and Vermont, connecting them with key voices and resource people on critical issues.

Home Availability in Our Region
Wed, Nov 18 & Tues, Dec 1, 9 – 10 am
Via Zoom; email Mike Kiess (mike@vitalcommunities.org) to RSVP and receive link.

Upper Valley legislators are invited to attend either of these discussions about opportunities to meet our collective housing needs, with members of Vital Communities’ Corporate Council. The Council is a volunteer group of this region’s largest and best-known institutions, businesses, and nonprofits that collectively employ more than 16,000 people and reach well over half the households in the region. Council members are deeply committed to working across boundaries to meet shared challenges.

Each session includes:

  • Update on housing-related legislative actions and opportunities in Montpelier and Concord (brief presentations);
  • Update on Upper Valley actions and opportunities, including new homes data from 2019 and in pipeline (brief presentations);
  • Identification of collaboration opportunities (breakout group discussion followed by report to the large group).

 

Buy Local to Feed Locals: Upper Valley Everyone Eats
Tues, Nov 24 , 1-2 pm

Register here for the Zoom event.

Join us  at a virtual panel and discussion about Upper Valley Everyone Eats, our local hub of the statewide coronavirus relief program Vermont Everyone Eats. We’ll hear directly from participating restaurants, meal sites, farms, and project coordinators, as they share their experiences with Upper Valley Everyone Eats, and discuss its impacts. We’ll save plenty of time for questions, too.

Vermont Everyone Eats pays hard hit Vermont restaurants $10/meal to prepare free, nutritious meals for Vermonters in need. Upper Valley Everyone Eats will provide ~35,000 meals to patrons across 17 meal sites between September 8 and December 18. We also may continue to the end of December, and we may be able to freeze meals for later distribution.

Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA).

Our Vermont legislators were a part of making this program possible, so thank you! We particularly invite you to attend, to gain a clearer picture of UVEE’s impacts. However, we welcome all officials to attend to hear about the innovative program. We are also inviting members of the Upper Valley Hunger Council, and Upper Valley Strong, and interested members of the public.

 

From the State House to the Farm House
Wednesday, December 16, 10 am to noon
Via Zoom.  RSVP (required) here  

Farmers and legislators are invited to this third annual event, hosted by farms across Vermont and focusing on citizen advocacy at the intersection of the working lands, community members, and policymakers. This virtual event is about building relationships among farmers/farmworkers and the (recently!) elected legislators who represent them, through dialogue about how policy can support the transition to a resilient and equitable agriculture that benefits all of our people, communities, and landscapes. In the midst of a year where so much has changed on farms and within our greater food web, and so many structural inequities have been exacerbated, there is much to discuss.  We look forward to this conversation.

The event will include regional breakouts with dialogue between farmers/farmworkers and legislators. Luna Bleu Farm will “host” the Windsor County session and Orange County will be “hosted” by Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center.

Details here.

Housing Help in New Hampshire!

Housing Stabilization Services (HSS) include shelters, rental assistance for both eviction prevention and rapid re-housing, security deposit loan program, tenant services, supported housing programs and facilities, outreach/coordinated entry, commodity foods distribution, commodity supplemental food program for seniors, workshops, etc. Our newest initiative is the Housing Relief Program!

NOTE: Deadline for completing applications is Dec 18, 2020.

The Housing Relief Program is designed to assist those with a COVID-related financial challenge (loss of income or increase of expenses due to COVID) and program details include:

  1. Help with past due mortgage, up to $2500, from April 1st– forward and/or
  2. Help with past due and/or current rent or utility assistance from April 1st– forward and/or
  3. Assistance with initial move-in costs such as first month’s rent
  4. The HousingRelief Program does NOT assist directly with car repairs, childcare expenses, property taxes, etc. The State has provided us with additional clarification that any funds paid out must be to help sustain housing (back due mortgage, back due and/or current rent, utilities such as electric bill, phone/internet, water bill, etc.). If it can be demonstrated that there was an increase in some of the expenses, due to COVID, that we cannot pay, the household may find themselves eligible for one of the approved forms of assistance above

If someone needs information about the Housing Relief Program, they can reach out to Jenna Tacy, jtacy@scshelps.org; she can also be reached by phone at 719-4294; as stated above, Lori Hathaway can assist as well; if you are working with someone and you know that it is definitely COVID-related, they can be referred directly to our website at: www.scshelps.org

Other questions? Email Mike Kiess at mike@vitalcommunities.org.

Housing Help in Vermont!

During these difficult times, new financial help programs are available to many Vermonters. The state does not want people to be struggling to pay bills, so please apply, even if you don’t usually get public help. Vermont Legal Aid has more information on these programs on its website: http://vtlawhelp.org.

NOTE: Application deadline for many programs is December 23, 2020. Please pass the word to anyone you can help!

Vermont Legal Aid is also able to help individual tenants and homeowners. Call them at 1-800-889-2047 or go to http://vtlawhelp.org. For the fastest response, leave a message explaining what you need in a sentence or two.

  1. Help with past-due rent

For help with past-due rent, Vermonters should apply for the Rental Housing Stabilization Program through the Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA). Tenants and landlords apply for this program at the same time. There are no income limits. VSHA pays landlords directly to bring the tenant’s rent account current. This program will last until December 30 or until the money runs out. You can get help now, and apply again if you still need help later. Learn more about this help for paying past-due rent on our website or reach us for help.

  1. Moving to a new home

Some people need to move because of life safety problems with their rental unit, the rent is too expensive, they have trouble with the landlord or other tenants, or the unit is too big or too small. If you need to move and have found a new landlord, apply together for the Money to Move program at vsha.org. The program can cover the money needed to move in, such as first and last month’s rent and security deposit. It also may cover rent payments through the end of this year. Learn more about this help on our website or reach us for help.

  1. Emergency housing for people who do not have a home

The Department of Children and Family’s (DCF) Economic Services Division is extending housing supports for homeless households. For more information or to apply, contact the Benefits Service Center at 1-800-479-6151.  Follow this link for the program rules.

If you stay in a shelter or motel, you need to participate in “coordinated entry.” Through coordinated entry, you will be assigned a housing case manager who will help you access subsidies and programs to help you get permanent housing. To learn more about coordinated entry, call 2-1-1. If you worked with your case manager to apply for a subsidy or other program and your application was denied, call Vermont Legal Aid at 1-800-889-2047.

  1. Past-Due Utility Bills

The Department of Public Services (DPS) can help pay past-due utility bills. The bills can be for electric, natural gas, landline telephone service or regulated private water bills (not municipal water). Homes and small businesses are eligible. There are no income limits, and you don’t have to have a disconnect notice. However, your difficulty paying the bill must be linked to COVID. The funding only covers arrearages after March 1, 2020. If you need help to fill out an application online, contact your local community action agency. Learn more on the Department of Public Service website.

  1. Mortgage Assistance Program (and maybe Property Tax Assistance)

This program can pay up to six past-due mortgage payments on your home. It is available to all Vermonters who:

  • are at least 1 month past due on mortgage payments
  • have a COVID-related hardship, and
  • meet the income requirements.

Even people who have mortgages in forbearance are eligible. If you have a mortgage and are behind on property taxes that you pay directly to the town, you may also be eligible for assistance. Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is taking applications for the Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. (You do not need to have a VHFA mortgage to be eligible.) Learn more about the mortgage assistance on our website or reach us for help.

Questions? Email Mike Kiess at mike@vitalcommunities.org.

Building Bridges in Our Community

At this writing, the outcome of the Presidential election isn’t clear. But what is clear is that the election has strained the social fabric of communities across our country, including our own. Passions are high and people are polarized. 

Despite the divisions, we must move forward. No matter who is in the White House, we face enormous tasks, from the immediate hardships caused by the pandemic to the longer-term challenges threatening the civic, economic, and environmental vitality of the Upper Valley.

What actions will move us forward as a region?  We can lean on principles that we at Vital Communities consider fundamental to our work. 

Commonality: We all share certain needs and concerns, regardless of our political outlook, such as food, housing, employment, a future for our children, and a love of place. These commonalities can inspire conversation and problem-solving.

Communication: We want respectful, open-minded discussion, in which our entire community is represented and feels heard, enabling a vibrant exchange of ideas and a shared sense of ownership in the outcome. 

Community: We achieve impact by working at the grassroots, neighbor to neighbor, town to town. We cherish each other and what our communities grow, produce, and create.

Whatever the nation’s leadership, if we lean on these principles we can make great things happen in our communities and be a beacon of hope for others elsewhere.

Photo: The Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge, by Dan Hertzler.

Why Bank Locally?

Where You Bank Makes a Difference!

When you use a bank or credit union rooted in our community, you’re making a conscious choice to support our local economy. Local First Champion member Mascoma Bank is a great example of why it’s important to move your money to a local institution. Mascoma Bank has been committed to investing in and lending in our region since 1894. They prioritize supporting Upper Valley communities, small businesses, and entrepreneurs – keeping our economy and community vital!

5 Reasons to Move Your Money and Bank Locally

1. Get the Same Services at Lower Cost
Most locally owned banks and credit unions offer the same array of services, from online bill paying to debit and credit cards, at a much lower cost than big banks. Average fees at small banks and credit unions are substantially lower than at big banks, according to national data. Studies show that small financial institutions also offer, on average, better interest rates on savings and better terms on credit cards and other loans.

2. Put Your Money to Work Growing Your Local Economy
Small businesses, which create the majority of new jobs, depend heavily on small, local banks for financing. Although small and mid-sized banks control less than one-quarter of all bank assets, they account for more than half of all small business lending. Big banks, meanwhile, allocate relatively little of their resources to small businesses. The largest 20 banks, which now control 57 percent of all bank assets, devote only 18 percent of their commercial loan portfolios to small business.

3. Keep Decision-Making Local
At local banks and credit unions, loan approvals and other key decisions are made locally by people who live in the community, have face-to-face relationships with their customers, and understand local needs. Because of this personal knowledge, local financial institutions are often able to approve small business and other loans that big banks would reject. In the case of credit unions, control ultimately rests with the customers, who are also member/owners.

4. Back Institutions that Share a Commitment to Your Community
The fortunes of local banks and credit unions are intimately tied to the fortunes of their local communities. The more the community prospers, the more the local bank benefits. This is why many local banks and credit unions are involved in their communities. Big banks, by contrast, are not tethered to the places where they operate. Indeed, they often use a community’s deposits to make investments in other regions or on Wall Street.

5. Support Productive Investment, Not Gambling
The primary activity of almost all small banks and credit unions is to turn deposits into loans and other productive investments. Meanwhile, big banks devote a sizeable share of their resources to speculative trading and other Wall Street bets that may generate big profits for the bank, but provide little economic or social value for the rest of us and can put the entirefinancial system at risk if they go bad.

Workshop: Converting Your Bike to an E-Bike

On Monday, November 9, 7 pm, a free Zoom workshop will teach you how to convert a regular bike to an e-bike!

Over summer and fall, the 2020 Upper Valley E-bike Library program gave a lot of Upper Valley residents the opportunity to discover how an electric-assist bike can be part of our regular transportation.

One of the least expensive options for obtaining an e-bike is to convert a regular bike, and here’s an online workshop to show us how!

Monday, 11/9, 7 pm

888 475 4499 US Toll-free   877 853 5257 US Toll-free    Meeting ID: 883 6192 9021

The workshop will feature a video of an actual conversion with lots of direct Q/A as we view it. A panel of experienced e-bike converters will share what they’ve learned from their trials and errors, insights on various makes and models of motors and batteries, and recommendations on the right materials and tools to have on hand before you dive in.

This workshop is organized by the Norwich Energy Committee, with funding from the Norwich Women’s Club and technical support from CATV.

Questions? Contact linda.c.gray@gmail.com.