UVM Medical Center

Making Connections, Improving Lives in Chittenden County

With help of Collective Impact grants, local organizations join together.


Burlington, VT – With the support of three grants recently awarded by the UVM Medical Center from its Community Health Investment Fund, community groups in Chittenden County are joining together to help children who are impacted by adults’ substance use disorder; recognize and prevent suicidal behavior; and embed mental health counselors with first responders.

Many organizations have recognized that if they join forces with other groups working on different aspects of the same problem, they can have a stronger impact. The Collective Impact grant program provides needed resources for these local groups to strategically align their efforts. These are the three newest programs to receive funding through the program.

Building Bright Futures: Substance Abuse Task Force Chittenden Planning Project

While Chittenden County has benefited from many successful strategies to address substance use disorder among adults, few of those strategies have explored the support that children impacted by substance use need as well. The $30,000 awarded to Building Bright Futures will support planning for a multi-generational approach to preventing and treating substance use disorder.

“Whether it’s prenatal exposure, toxic substances and stress in the home, or impact on their parents’ ability to parent, children are especially impacted by substance abuse – but they often get left out of the discussion,” said Carolyn Wesley, Deputy Director at Building Bright Futures. “This grant will help us bring together Chittenden County organizations who are already working with children and families, and those who are working on the adult treatment side, to identify strategies that will better support families impacted by substance use disorder.”

Center for Health and Learning: Community Partners for Suicide Prevention

Partnerships between mental health and health care providers, and community groups are critical for creating systems effective at preventing suicide. This $40,000 grant will help providers and community members prevent and respond to suicidal behavior through awareness and training, and by conducting a needs assessment on how access and care can be improved. There will be an emphasis on culturally sensitive care for Abenaki populations. The Vermont Suicide Prevention Center is a public-private partnership and will coordinate this effort, advised by the Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition. The key partners are Northwest Counseling and Support Services, Community Health Centers of Burlington, Northern Tier Center for Health (NOTCH), and the Abenaki Parent Advisory Committee.  

“This grant brings together key community partners across the mental health, health care and Abenaki community to identify gaps, challenges and opportunities, and learn about the cultural considerations related to providing better care,” said Dr. JoEllen Tarallo, Director at the Center for Health and Learning. “We have long been interested in health disparities and equity issues faced by the Abenaki, as well as the unique issues related to the delivery of suicide safe care in the most rural areas of Vermont.”

Howard Center: Chittenden County Community Outreach

Through the Community Outreach program, four mental health counselors are embedded with police and EMT services to support residents and visitors with unmet social service needs, often as a result of mental illness or substance use. The $80,000 grant they have received will support this partnership between Colchester, Essex, Williston, Shelburne, Winooski, South Burlington, and Howard Center.

“Community outreach is already proving to be a valuable resource to first responders who are encountering people with significant mental health needs,” said Kevin Dorn, City Manager of South Burlington, Vermont. “Rather than a uniformed police officer showing up alone, we now have trained counselors who can begin addressing the need for mental health services right at the point of contact. This will help first responders de-escalate difficult situations and help people get the care they need.”

About The University of Vermont Medical Center

The University of Vermont Medical Center  is a 447-bed tertiary care regional referral center providing advanced care to approximately one million residents in Vermont and northern New York.  Together with our partners at the UVM Larner College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center.  The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties. 

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high-quality academic medicine to every community we serve.  Our partners are:

For more information visit UVMHealth.org/MedCenter or visit our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog sites at UVMHealth.org/MedCenterSocialMedia.

For more information about the grant recipients, visit them at:

Building Bright Futures: http://BuildingBrightFutures.org/

Center for Health and Learning: http://HealthandLearning.org/

Howard Center: http://www.HowardCenter.org/home