Richard Kemp Center, In Burlington

Introducing the Richard Kemp Center

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance (VRJA), in partnership with with community and other stakeholders has established the Richard Kemp Center in Burlington, Vermont. The purpose of the Richard Kemp Center is to invest in systems that address Black and Brown folks’ wellness; support our youth; enable our economic advancement and ensure our cultural empowerment moving us towards towards greater racial and social equity in wealth distribution, health and prosperity. It will honor the legacy of a Black community social justice hero; create a new era of intentional Black-led community engagement and support in Burlington and across Vermont; and, pay a promise forward into the hope in the lives of the Black and Brown youth in Vermont.

Why is this Important?

  • We know that history, research, and experience demonstrate that Vermont residents experience barriers to the equal enjoyment and benefit of economic opportunity and cultural empowerment based on race and ethnicity.
  • We know that the United States was founded as a country on a triangular relationship between settlers, native persons, and slaves. This structure created an inequity for wealth, economic resources, cultural empowerment, homeownership, and land access through systemic oppression and systematic racism for those who were defined as native or slave.
  • We know that housing disparity and land access may increase with COVID-19, advancing the triple threats of oppression—racism, classism, and sexism—in the State.
  • We know that without adequate access to land and home ownership, Black folks and other people of color are forced to live in multigenerational housing, placing them at higher risk to COVID-19 exposure.
  • We know that property ownership rates for the Black and other people of color in the State continue to remain stagnant.
  • We know that in a 2019 equity report, Burlington city officials found that Black and other people of color own only four percent of the homes, though they make up 18 percent of the city’s population.
  • We know that Black Burlingtonians are four times as likely to be denied for a home loan as a White counterpart. This is a direct result of the wealth gap between them and their White counterparts.
  • We know that the median household income for a Black Vermonter is $41,533.00 compared to $58,244.00 for their White counterparts.
“Our Black communities are at the core of our values because this is where we live and interact”
Vermont Racial Justice Alliance,
Operation Phoenix R.I.S.E., June, 2020


Located central to those it serves, the Richard Kemp Center will serve as a bastion of hope, purpose and vision for the Black community. Through a community partnership the Richard Kemp Center, containing a Community Center, Youth Activity Center and Art and Science Centers of Excellence will focus on wellness, youth, cultural empowerment and economic development. Programming offered at the Richard Kemp Center will include and will not be limited to Wellness Support, Adult Basic Education, Basic Computer Skills Training, People and Workforce Development, Financial, Home and Land Ownership Education, Entrepreneurial Cultivation Programs, Technical Assistance, Grant Assistance and Youth Programming (including mentoring, STEM Development, Arts and Sports).

Vermont embraces its responsibility to course correct the historical impact of economic exploitation and exclusion from opportunity due to race and ethnicity for American descendants of slavery and the broader Black, Indigenous, and other Persons of Color community.
Vermont Racial Justice Alliance A.C.T. (H.406, 2021)

Next Steps


VRJA, in conjunction with other community partners will continue to conduct outreach activities, including one-on-one and group meetings (virtual) throughout Black and Brown communities and with other community stakeholders. These meetings will be conducted by qualified facilitators and memorialized for consideration and potential integration into the programming of the Richard Kemp Center. Engagement will consist of at least one full meeting of community stakeholders. The facilitator will produce a final report outlining a summary of community input and recommendations. Outreach will also be conducted to ensure a collaborative process with the city and state stakeholders. More information on outreach is forthcoming.


VRJA invites individuals and organizations, businesses, and city state agencies to financially support the establishment and rollout of the Richard Kemp Center. Phase one of our fundraising goal is 450K by the close of 2021. The goal of phase one is to cover the costs associated with community engagement, initial stages of up-fitting, staffing, equipment, programming and overhead. This is an opportunity to honor the legacy of a Burlington Black social justice hero, Richard Kemp. This is chance to invest in the birth of an era of intentional Black-led community engagement and support. This is the moment where we can pay a promise forward into the hope in the lives of the Black and Brown youth in Burlington and across Vermont, enabling them to march on.

Donations can be made here:

Make checks payable to the Richard Kemp Center70 S. Winooski Ave Unit 240Burlington, VT 05401

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