Community Navigator Pilot Program

CVOEO's Micro Business Development Program has joined forces with small business programs across the state! We believe economic justice benefits all Vermonters, and will be coordinating our efforts to help rural Vermonters, women, LGBTQ+, veterans, BIPOC Vermonters, and New American community members successfully launch and grow businesses. The Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) will serve as the "hub" of the new Community Navigator Pilot Project, with 9 "spoke" partners, including CVOEO's Micro Business Development Program.

Here at CVOEO we will:

  • Increase educational opportunities and direct support for entrepreneurs to use social media, online applications, and computer skills to market and manage their business;
  • Increase access to education and 1:1 coaching on personal finance and credit;
  • Increase the support offered to entrepreneurs and small business owners by our Financial Empowerment for New Americans Project team in collaboration with our Micro Business Development Program.

New programming will begin in February of 2022. Watch this space for upcoming classes, workshops, and events!

How will our work on the project fit in to the larger picture of the project? Read on to learn more:

Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) - Vermont

As part of a national initiative introduced by President Biden and Vice President Harris, Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) has been chosen as one of 51 grantees nationwide to be part of the?Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program. There were more than 700 submissions for the program.


According to the SBA, the  Community Navigator Pilot Program is designed to “reduce barriers that all small businesses — including those owned by disadvantaged groups such as veterans, women and those from rural communities —often face in accessing critical support.”


As one of 11 Tier 2 grantees, VtSBDC will receive $2.5 million over a two-year period. Tier 2 grantees support an individual state, region, municipality, or city with total service population of greater than or equal to 500,000.


“We are excited and optimistic about being selected for the Tier 2 grant along with nine Vermont partner organizations that will provide either outreach or direct services to entrepreneurs and small business owners,” said Linda Rossi, VtSBDC’s State Director. “We look forward to this extraordinary opportunity and these funds will enable us to make important inroads on our shared goals for the target populations: women, veterans, communities of color, and rural communities.”


The Community Navigator Pilot Program uses a “hub and spoke” model, with VtSBDC as the hub, and nine spoke organizations that will create impact through the central hub. Together, they will leverage partnerships with deeply trusted community-based organizations to help small businesses navigate government resources and tap into critical resources, according to the SBA’s plan.


In preparation for the grant application, VtSBDC facilitated many meeting and one-on-one discovery sessions to review, discuss and understand recent research, surveys and COVID-related experiences with the target populations. These meetings emphasized obstacles the target populations continue to face, and which have become more challenging as a result of COVID-19, in order to build consensus among the prospective spokes to define the focus of the Community Navigator two-year grant. 


The “spoke” partner organizations are:


Vermont Law School (VLS)


Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) Financial Futures Program


Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF)


Center for Women and Enterprise (CWEVT)


Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation (CVEDC)


Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC)


Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA)


Vermont Professionals of Color Network


Main Street Alliance-Vermont


The well-balanced network of partner organizations recruited by VtSBDC will help address the identified gap areas of: financial, digital and legal literacy while increasing cultural knowledge, awareness and greater sensitivity through diversity, equity and inclusivity efforts across the technical assistance provider network of Vermont.  In addition to spokes, VtSBDC has many partners that will be included in the broader communications and serve as host locations for Community Navigator activities. 


“The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized building our small business ecosystems back better so that all of our entrepreneurs have a fair shot at achieving the American dream of business ownership,” said Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “We need to meet businesses where they are with resources to start, grow and be resilient, and the Community Navigator Pilot Program will power a trusted network of community partners to connect America’s entrepreneurs with the SBA. The program’s Community Navigators will develop strong relationships with deeply trusted community-based organizations that will tap into one-on-one, targeted support from programs designed to help them create jobs and drive innovation.” 


For the SBA press release about the Community Navigator Grant:


For more on VtSBDC, visit the website at



   Funding in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration.








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CVOEO addresses fundamental issues of economic, social, environmental, and racial justice and works with people to achieve economic independence.


Serving more than 10,000 households annually,
impacting the lives of over 23,000 individuals