Governor Phil Scott, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont Afterschool and the Agency of Education outlined a plan to enhance and expand summertime enrichment opportunities for Vermont students grades K-12, April 9.
In response to the impact of the pandemic on children, youth and families, Governor Scott, Senator Sanders and other partners worked to ensure that every child, of every age, has access to engaging, enriching activities this summer. Knowing the challenges of this past year, these leaders are committed to making sure kids can re-connect with themselves, their friends, and their communities in safe and rewarding ways.
“This once-in-a-century global pandemic has been difficult for everyone, especially our kids. The lack of in-person learning, the loss of connection with friends and classmates and the limits on activities and access to everything from nutritious meals, physical education, sports, drama, music, clubs, and other social events, have taken a tremendous toll,” said Governor Scott. “As we enter the last few laps of this pandemic, we want to do whatever we can to give our kids a great summer that supports their recovery. I’m very pleased to put this initiative forward to do just that.”
The federal funding, secured by Senator Sanders in the American Rescue Plan, will allow providers to build summer programs focused on meeting the needs of Vermont students. In partnership with Vermont Afterschool, the Agency of Education will also make $1.5 million of federal funds available in grants from the state to camps and programs so they can expand access to all young people, breaking down barriers of geography, socioeconomics and demographics.
Expansions should include additional slots in programs, extended hours or weeks, and programs will be supported to address and accommodate the unique needs of students of all ages. Through this initiative, school districts can also expand both academic and social opportunities for students by partnering with local programs.
“It is no secret that this has been one of the most disruptive years for all of us, but especially for our young people. It is absolutely essential that we do everything we possibly can to support Vermont students in the coming months and years as we recover from these challenges, and that work must start this summer. That is why I am very proud to have secured significant funding for summer programming in the American Rescue Plan,” said Sen. Sanders. “This funding gives us a real opportunity to create the programs that our students want and need. Together, we can ensure young people throughout our state, from our youngest kindergarteners to our incoming seniors in high school, have a great summer.”
“We greatly appreciate all that Governor Scott and Senator Sanders are doing to increase access to summer programs for Vermont’s children and youth,” said Holly Morehouse, executive director of Vermont Afterschool. “More than ever, we need Summer 2021 to be one of connection, engagement, and learning – of all types – for our children and youth. This summer should be about fun times with friends, program staff, and mentors; opportunities for creative enrichment and expression; healthy meals; daily physical activity; outdoor adventures; career exploration and job opportunities for older youth; and projects that allow young people to explore and learn.”
Vermont Afterschool will host an interactive website that families and providers can use to identify available programs in each area of the state to find the right match for their children. The Vermont Afterschool website launched Friday, April 9, and can be accessed by visiting vermontafterschool.org/summermatters. The site will continue to be populated and updated, in real time, as more programs are developed or come online.
For youth interested in apprenticeships and summer jobs, the Vermont Afterschool website also identifies those programs and camps still looking for summertime staff. A parallel effort with the Vermont Dept. of Labor and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation offers opportunities to explore careers and find summer jobs.