The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices has announced that Vermont has been awarded $12,000 to host a Governors Summit on Poverty and Economic Opportunity. According to the NGA, the purpose of the grants is to galvaniz[e] state and local leadership to advance a comprehensive policy agenda to reduce poverty among children and families. The grant money can be used to fund planning directly related to Vermonts summit, and for customized technical assistance before, during and after the event. My administration is dedicated to ensuring all Vermonters are on the path to prosperity, and through the Agency of Human Services, we are committed to assisting our states most vulnerable gain access to comprehensive, compassionate supports which will enable them to become truly self-sufficient, said Gov. Jim Douglas. During difficult fiscal times, it is even more important to ensure we are doing all we can to support low-income families. This summit will be a valuable tool to bring together state and community partners around our mission to eradicate poverty in Vermont and to ensure we emerge from this economic downturn stronger than ever. State selection for the awards was made through a competitive application process to the NGA Center for Best Practices, and awardees were chosen by an advisory committee that included subject matter experts representing national and state perspectives. Funding for the $12,000 grants is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and an anonymous donor-advised foundation. Vermonts application noted that a Governors Summit will build on the significant work the state has undertaken recently in terms of research and data acquisition to better understand the root causes of poverty in Vermont. The convergence of two significant reports, ten-year plans from both the Vermont Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Vermont Child Poverty Council, offers us a unique opportunity to use a Governors Summit to assess recommendations, prioritize action steps, and create a single, overarching and comprehensive plan that addresses the entirety of the issue across the state. We are extremely pleased that the NGA has recognized Vermonts deep commitment to empowering vulnerable individuals and families; helping them recognize and build upon their strengths and supporting them to achieve the best possible life for themselves, stated Cynthia D. LaWare, Secretary of the Agency of Human Services. The Agency looks forward to working with the Governors office, the legislature and community leaders to bring together our collective resources in the fight against poverty during this important summit. Vermonts Governors Summit on Poverty and Economic Opportunity is tentatively planned to be held at the Vermont State House in April 2009.