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VTDigger announces new Underwriting for Racial Equity Project

A new VTDigger initiative will provide a set amount of free underwriting to businesses owned by Vermonters who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). 

Stemming from a community request that VTDigger offer free advertising to BIPOC-owned businesses as a means of redistributing resources and advancing racial equity in Vermont, the new Underwriting for Racial Equity Project is an outcome of VTDigger’s 2021 community listening pilot project.

“There are so many incredible ideas that are emerging from our ongoing listening activities and we are working on bringing many of them to life,” said Libbie Sparadeo, VTDigger’s Director of Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, “We felt it was important to start with something very tangible and beneficial for communities that have been historically mis- or underrepresented in Vermont media.”

As a result of systematic and exclusionary policies that have created the racial wealth gap, BIPOC business owners are underrepresented nationally and face disproportionate barriers (e.g. lack of access to capital). In Vermont, only 2.4 percent of businesses are owned by BIPOC individuals, despite the fact that they comprise about 10 percent of the state’s population. 

BIPOC-owned businesses were also hit harder during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, the number of active Black-owned small businesses nationally fell 41 percent between February to April 2020, compared to 17 percent among white-owned businesses. 

With this program, VTDigger seeks to actively address the systematic apparatus, including traditional news media outlets, that has contributed to the economic and opportunity barriers facing members of  the BIPOC community.  

VTDigger invites businesses to apply to participate in the Underwriting for Racial Equity Project for placement over the course of the next 12 months. Read more about how the program works and how to apply here


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Libbie Sparadeo

About Libbie

Libbie Sparadeo leads community engagement, communications and external partnerships. Previously she managed development and planning for Neighbors in Action, a demonstration project of the Center for Court Innovation that promotes community cohesion in Central Brooklyn. Before that, Libbie was policy associate with the Katal Center for Health, Equity and Justice, and managed a Ford Foundation initiative at CUNY with formerly incarcerated and undocumented students in the South Bronx. Born and raised in Vermont, she holds an MA in Human Rights from Columbia University. She lives in Randolph.

Email: [email protected]

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