Hundreds Attend 3rd Annual Poverty & Opportunity Training Forum

15 April 2016

On April 14, 2016, over 300 anti-poverty practitioners from across the state attended the Third Annual Poverty & Opportunity Training Forum hosted by the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).  On hand were representatives from community organizations and state agencies working to end poverty in Vermont, including the State’s five Community Action Agencies, emergency homeless shelters, Family Supportive Housing programs, weatherization agencies, the Department for Children and Families (DCF), and the Agency of Human Services (AHS).

The day-long training included:

  • Remarks by DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz and AHS Secretary Hal Cohen
  • A keynote address by Matthew Darling, a Vice President at ideas42
  • Thirty-one interactive workshops
  • Networking opportunities

OEO Chief Administrator Sarah Phillips got the training started by welcoming attendees, thanking the organizers, and talking about their common goal to end poverty.  DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz then set the tone for the rest of the day.

“Helping people move out of poverty is an ambitious goal,” said DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz. “It requires the focus, dedication, and collaboration of many agencies and organizations, including the ones represented here today. Today’s training gives us the opportunity to share ideas, learn about innovations in our field, develop skills, and most importantly to connect with each other. Thank you all for being here today and for the important work you do each and every day.”

AHS Secretary Hal Cohen addressed the participants during lunch. 

“Poverty is a significant obstacle for many Vermonters who are working to achieve economic stability for their families,” said AHS Secretary Hal Cohen. “Those looking to overcome poverty’s many challenges benefit from the help and support of the many organizations across the state that are focused on this important issue. One example of the meaningful difference that’s possible with a collaborative approach to poverty can be seen at the Office of Economic Opportunity. I am very proud of the work OEO and its partners do to provide Vermonters with the support they need to put poverty behind them.”

The day was a great success. Participants learned about the latest research and evidenced-informed practices they could use to help people move out of poverty.      

“We come together from what might feel to be a separate work life only to be reminded that we’re one great mass of knowledge, skills and dedication, said CVOEO Development Director Joan White. “Yes, we are one. And in the process we solidify partnerships, make new friends, and restore our energy and spirit for this important work.”

For more information about the work of the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, go to


OEO funds and monitors over 50 community-based organizations that work on a broad range of anti-poverty issues such as emergency shelter, homelessness prevention, permanent housing, microbusiness development, asset development, and weatherization.  Part of OEO’s role is to provide training and technical assistance to its grantees and partner agencies.