A town or city adopting a Declaration of Inclusion is making a statement to its citizens and to others that this is a town that believes in treating everyone fairly, recognizing that “everyone” does not look or act alike, that we expect our municipal government to abolish any language in ordinances, hiring practices and police protocols that favor the white majority or diminish the rights of others.
A town or city may not necessarily be reacting to a prior incident or situation but, in most cases, will just be doing what is right and fair for all citizens – present and future.
A welcoming town thrives because it encourages diversity, which brings new vitality to the economy and increased tax revenue.
As you are preparing to present the Declaration of Inclusion to your town or group, you might consider some of the reasons and suggestions below and put these thoughts into your own words...
I believe that this town has always treated people respectfully and fairly so we should say it with a forceful statement. By stating it, it then becomes a message that we welcome all people and we thrive when we have a diverse population. Think of the Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants who came here to work in the marble and granite industries and the important heritage they brought with them. Vermont would not be the culturally rich state it is without these immigrants and many more. These people all brought skills, ambitions, religious traditions, interesting food, unique customs, and so much more.
The United States as a whole is the most diverse country on earth and the most successful by almost any measure. And, it is no coincidence that Burlington and Chittenden county have the most dynamic economy in Vermont, as well as the most diverse population. Diversity brings creativity that leads to solutions and a richer life for all.
Historically Vermont has been one of the least diverse States. In its recent annual poll, CNBC rated Vermont as the top State for business. It highlighted Vermont’s voting rights, child care, health care and air quality as major attractions. It noted, not surprisingly, that Vermont’s inclusiveness did not measure up to its other assets. By encouraging and promoting diversity in our towns, schools, public and daily lives, we can prepare our children to comfortably thrive in a community of people of all cultures, backgrounds and beliefs.
We all want our cities and towns (and our state) to grow in a healthy way, to increase our tax base, and fund our schools and roads. To make this happen we need to welcome all people. We need to reach out, proactively, to the world at large, with the message that WE WELCOME ANYONE who wants to live, work and add richness to our state. Currently, the population in Vermont is static or declining with low fertility rates and young people leaving the state. The remaining population is aging and putting a strain on underfunded state resources.
With remote work becoming well accepted, people are moving to Vermont, bringing with them jobs, new skills, and capabilities. They embody the way our world will look in 10 to 20 years and their presence may inspire other talented folks to move to our town and state. These new residents will be remodeling homes and building new ones, their tax dollars paying for better-funded services. With a more vibrant and interesting economy, more of our young people will want to stay, work, and raise their families in Vermont.
A Declaration of Inclusion is another tool in the “toolbox” of those responsible for the town’s economic development, that is, their toolbox of reasons why someone should locate a business here, perhaps choosing our town (or state) over another.
Equitable and Inclusive Communities Grant Program
In cooperation with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the state of Vermont’s Office of Racial Equity, the Vermont Community Foundation is seeking proposals from Vermont villages, towns, and cities that close the opportunity gap by supporting local efforts to foster inclusion and belonging for people of all races and backgrounds.
This program will award grants of up to $10,000 for a 18-month project period.
Eligible applicants are Vermont cities, towns, and villages. Nonprofit organizations or community groups doing work on behalf of and in coordination with a city, town, or village may apply if a letter of support from the municipal partner is included.
All applicants to programs at the Vermont Community Foundation must meet these guidelines.
Learn More: vermontcf.org/inclusive