Newsletter Vol. 3 No. 12 – December 2023


What a year it has been for our community…

There have been some great highs, such as being able to host more large-scale gatherings as COVID has started to truly subside. And yet, there have been some incredible lows, like the flooding in July and August that impacted so many members of our community, and the shooting of Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad just a week ago. There is so much pain and joy, tension and relief that we are individually and collectively holding. Yet, we all ultimately come together in all of these moments, for better or worse. At the end of the day, it is about community and how we can make the space we live in just a little bit better than the day before.

This year has also been big for us as an organization. We focused on completing foundational work, building out our organizational values, which were built from the amalgamation of our individual staff values. These values—community, growth, leadership, equity, and service—are the foundational basis for what we do every day.

We also redefined the word ‘professional.’ To us, it’s not the traditional white-collar worker who is the professional. A professional is anyone dedicated to developing expertise in a skill or craft that contributes to personal growth and/or societal improvement. Whether you’re a plumber, a stay-at-home parent, a corporate lawyer, or a pastor, you’re a professional.

This year, we’ve seen amazing events come together thanks to Krystal Sanchez! From our first BIPOC Job Fair, where we broke down the traditional job/career fair model to make it more accessible to our community, to turning our annual August Kickback signature event into a flood recovery fundraiser, Krystal has DONE. THE. THING. Not only that, she also managed the writing of this BADASS report about what small businesses in our community need to succeed in whatever way they want.

We also hired Mimi Duong as Member and Outreach Coordinator. Y’all, I think you’ll agree with me when I say they are BRINGING THE GOODS. Most of you are here because of Mimi’s amazing work. Thank them for their incredible contributions next time you see them.

We also have Airon Shaw in the house as Community Support Coordinator. She’s been working extremely hard since the floods (we literally hired her the week before everything happened), driving around the state, making sure people are getting what they need. We couldn’t have gotten through this summer without her, and she’s going to be sticking around, so be ready for her!

We also welcomed Tino Rutanhira on full-time as Co-Executive Director. The dude is UNSTOPPABLE and brings so much passion to what we do. If you didn’t know, Tino and I co-founded the organization, and he’s been working hard to make sure the lights stay on by fundraising for VT PoC while also having a full-time corporate position. Now that he’s on full-time, we’ve got big plans for 2024, so keep an eye out!

We couldn’t be where we are without Charlotte Santiago Graf, our OG communications manager turned marketing specialist. She had faith in the organization before it was a formal organization and has stuck with us for the last three years. We are so thankful for you, Charlotte!

And that’s the thing… y’all are the real reason we’re here. We truly couldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. This coming year, our team will be engaging with you on a deeper level, finding out what you need; engaging you directly in our work, whether it’s as an advisor or a volunteer at an event; and making sure the organization is working for you.

On behalf of all of us at VT PoC, thank you so much for your continued faith and support in us. We can’t wait to ring in the new year with you!

With all my love,

Co-Executive Director


VT PoC Is Looking for Writers for Volume 4 of the Newsletter!

To diversify our content and provide a platform for varied voices, we are actively seeking BIPOC writers to contribute an article for 2024! Writers will receive compensation for their piece.

Fill out the interest form below and VT PoC will be in contact via email.

BIPOC Relief Fund Open for Businesses

VT PoC has limited funding available for BIPOC small business owners recovering from the July floods. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Apply for Small Business Technical Assistance Exchange (SBTAE)

This is a state-funded program that helps VT business owners transform their small businesses through service projects for up to $4,000. This program seeks to celebrate and advance these priority groups of business owners: women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, mature Vermonters, young Vermonters, people with disabilities, veterans, justice-involved individuals, new Americans and people in rural places.


December 8 – RENAISSANCE: A Film by Beyoncé

VT PoC welcomes BIPOC community members and their households for a private screening of RENAISSANCE: A Film by Beyoncé! ✨

Located in the T-Rex theater of Essex Cinemas, this will be a limited ticketed experience. Cost: $11 per ticket (not including taxes and fees). You must RSVP on Eventbrite to attend.

December 4, 5, 6, 7 – Migrant Justice Phone Banking Party (5:00 PM – 9:00 PM)
Migrant Justice will be holding our annual fundraiser phone banking party remotely (except for Thur 12/7) this year! Sign up to help us pull off the 2023 annual phone bank “teletón!” 💫💫💫💫

December 5, 12, 19 – Burlington Yoga Equity Project Presents: BIPOC Affinity Yoga (5:45 PM – 7:00 PM)
This weekly drop-in class will be freely offered and incentivized through the Yoga Equity Project at Laughing River Yoga. Participants will be paid $10 for attending class. Class style and instructors will vary from month to month, giving participants the opportunity to try out new classes and get to know our team of BIPOC teachers!

December 6, 27 – Fletcher Free Library Presents: Tibetan Dancing (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Dive into the enchanting world of Tibetan culture at Fletcher Free Library’s captivating night of Tibetan dancing! Join us for an evening filled with vibrant performances, rhythmic beats, and the rich tapestry of traditional Tibetan dance, all set against the backdrop of community warmth. Experience the beauty of diversity right here in Burlington as we come together to celebrate the artistry and spirit of Tibet!

December 8 – Safe Spaces – BIPoC Game Night (7:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Sometimes we just need a night out without going out. So throw on something comfy and let’s have a game night! Donations welcome and help cover the cost of childcare, food and drinks. Feel free to BYO drink, snack or something to share.

December 9 – The Gift – Figure Skating Show (1:00 PM – 3:00 PM)
Announcing The Gift — Leddy Arena’s holiday ice skating show — on Saturday, December 9 from 1-3pm! Come enjoy performances from talented local skaters including solos, group numbers, duets and trios! Admission is free but cash donations of any size will be accepted at the door for our dedicated charity: Champlain Community Services.

December 9 – The Poetry Experience hosted by Rajnii Eddins (1:00 PM – 3:00 PM)
Looking for a fun space to be creative and share poetry? Check out this local writing/sharing circle. Please spread the word and feel free to invite poets, writers, teachers, emcees, creative people and arts enthusiasts of all ages!

December 9 – Holiday Market on Main (11:00 AM – 2:00 PM)
The Space On Main will be continuing its annual Holiday Market On Main. This market aims to support for-profit and nonprofit vendors who make/grow/produce their own products. The event will be free and open to the public. This market features 100% of vendors that match one or more of the following ownership highlights: woman-owned, LGBTQ+-owned, BIPOC-owned, youth/student-owned, and/or veteran-owned.

December 9 – Black is Beautiful Film Series: The Beauty of Blackness (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Eunice Johnson launches Fashion Fair, the first national cosmetics company that focuses entirely on Black women; Fashion Fair stages its comeback as a black-owned business in a new era defined by massive cultural shifts and increased competition. The Black Is Beautiful Film Series is curated and hosted by poet Rajnii Eddins. The series features monthly films by Black film directors. The films range from the well-known Hollywood blockbusters to award-winning independent films. Please join us for an afternoon of entertaining and engaging movies!

December 12 – Fletcher Free Library Presents: ‘Ohana Le’ale’a (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Step into the vibrant world of Hawaiian culture at Fletcher Free Library, where the spirit of ‘Ohana Le’ale’a comes alive in a family-friendly free class. Immerse yourself in the warmth of aloha as you explore traditional Hawaiian arts, language, and customs, creating a unique and enriching experience for all ages within the heart of the library.

December 16 – Upper Valley BIPOC Winter Social (4:00 PM – 7:30 PM)
Immerse yourself in an artsy night out at the AVA Gallery, adorned in the spirit of the season. This is an exclusive adults-only event for the Upper Valley BIPOC community and supporters. Let’s come together for a night of elegance, community, and celebration! RSVP by December 10.

December 16 – Vermont Chinese School – 2023 Dongzhi Festival / Winter Solstice Potluck (5:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
VCS will host a potluck dinner to celebrate Dongzhi Festival, also known as Winter Solstice. VCS will set up a tangyuan-making table for children; adults are welcome too! We’ll have festival-related activities for everyone. Please kindly indicate the number of attending children (age 17 and under) so we can better prepare for the event. Please sign up through Admission may be paid in advance via Venmo or PayPal (details will be provided at sign-up). Cash Payment is also accepted at the door. We hope to see you at the event!

December 16 – Outdoor Equity Benefit Slideshow by Ming Poon (5:00 PM – 7:30 PM)
Spend an evening with Vermont-raised, award-winning photographer Ming Poon for a photo journey of his recent visit to Arctic Village, home of the Neets’aii Gwich’in, and Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Ming’s stories and breath-taking imagery will describe his experience with Vermonter Brennan Lagasse and UNR Lake Tahoe students as honored guests of tribal elders Sarah James (of the Neets’aii Gwich’in) and Robert Thompson (of the Iñupiat.)

December 19 – Burlington Yoga Equity Project Presents: American Flatbread Benefit Bake (4:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Join us for a night of fun, good food, and support!

December 22 – Safe Spaces Presents: Special Edition Holiday Game Night (5:00 PM – 10:00 PM)
Take a break from shopping and join us for fun and games, classic Nog and holiday treats! Childcare available! Movie, hot cocoa and popcorn for the kids during childcare.

December 29, 30, 31 – Tom Thakkar at the Vermont Comedy Club (7:00 PM, 9:00 PM)
Tom Thakkar is a comedian you’ve seen on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Comedy Central’s Stand Up Presents,” “This Week at the Comedy Cellar,” “CONAN,” and as the host of Comedy Central’s “Stand Up with Tom Thakkar.”

January 7 – VERMONT BIPOC YOUTH: Participate in a Youth Equity Advisory Group and earn a $100 stipend! (11:00 AM – 3:00 PM)
The Vermont Network believes a violence-free future is possible. We work to uproot oppression and violence, with joy and in community. We value youth experience and wisdom and are committed to partnering with youth and amplifying youth voice and power. Would you like to help shape the future work of the Vermont Network? The Vermont Network invites you for a day of connection and sharing experiences with other BIPOC Vermont youth. This event will be held in person in Central Vermont, with a hybrid option for folks who can’t make it in person to zoom in for part of the gathering. After folks RSVP, we’ll follow up with more information about the event, the venue, transportation options and more. BIPOC teens and BIPOC youth up to age 24 are welcome.


‘Heroes of resiliency’: Shut out from federal funding, an immigrant-owned Montpelier restaurant struggles to return after the floods
While he has received some local monies, the owner of KSherpa Dinner House does not qualify for federal disaster funds because of his citizenship status, putting him at a significant disadvantage as he works to bring his business back online.

Free walk-in Covid vaccination clinics for uninsured adults to be held in Barre
The clinics are scheduled for every Saturday from Nov. 18 to Dec. 30.

Latino farmer in Vermont uses heirloom corn to connect with community
Nando Jaramillo grows heirloom corn in Vermont using regenerative farming practices. He uses the corn to make masa for arepas and empanadas, which he sells throughout Vermont’s Upper Valley.

Short-term rentals are on the rise in Vermont. So are debates over how to regulate them.
In September, Vermont saw the highest number of active short-term rentals out of any month on record: 11,747.

UVM’s First Comprehensive Inclusive Excellence Action Plan Sets Important Goals for University Community
UVM’s First Data-driven Inclusive Excellence Action Plan Pulls Together Work and People Across the University.

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