Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott and Senator Bernie Sanders, in partnership with Vermont Afterschool, today announced the recipients of the Afterschool & Summer Expanding Access Grant program for the summers of 2022 and 2023 and the 2022–2023 school year.
A total of $4.23 million was awarded to 39 programs from 11 Vermont counties. Building off the successful 2021 Summer Matters grant initiative and the progress Vermont has made toward offering universal afterschool and summer programs, the Expanding Access Grants will continue to reduce gaps in Vermont’s current summer and afterschool system by addressing affordability, increasing availability, building long-lasting partnerships to promote sustainability, and piloting innovative approaches.
“I’m encouraged by the outpouring of interest from programs who want to serve more youth and families in their communities,” said Governor Scott. “Ensuring all Vermont youth have access to engaging afterschool and summer programs is a top priority, and we’ll continue our work moving this forward. I’m grateful to Senator Sanders and Vermont Afterschool for their continued partnership.”
The grants, funded by federal dollars secured by Senator Sanders, were awarded to a variety of programs, including summer camps, libraries, municipalities, teen centers, non-profit social services organizations and more, to expand the number of weeks and slots, as well as to increase affordability and accessibility of summer and afterschool programs.
“After more than two years of this terrible pandemic, it is no secret that young people in particular have faced struggles that we are only beginning to understand,” said Sen. Sanders. “Now more than ever, young Vermonters need and deserve to have summer opportunities that are both fun and enriching. I am glad to have worked in partnership with Governor Scott on these programs since I first included funding for summer and afterschool funding in the federal COVID response legislation in 2020. It is good news that we are building off the progress we have made toward reaching universal afterschool and summer programs for all Vermont students, regardless of income. By making their programs free or low-cost, addressing transportation needs, and finding opportunities for older students – like expanded employment options – these grantees are tackling the major barriers faced by so many working Vermont families during the summer months. I thank each and every one of the people who have worked to make today possible and look forward to seeing all you are able to do this summer.”
“Vermont’s afterschool and summer programs play a critical role in the well-being of Vermont’s children and youth, creating opportunities for them to engage, connect, learn, and grow,” said Nicole Miller, Interim Director of Vermont Afterschool. “These programs offer not only a lifeline for working families and caregivers on whom Vermont’s business and economy rely, but also to children and youth, who gain additional supports to emerge from the pandemic strong, resilient, and hopeful. We have no doubt that the programs awarded grant funds will make a strong impact on the lives of Vermont’s children and youth.”
The Expanding Access Grant process was highly competitive with 144 proposals submitted totaling $14.1 million in requests. These proposals, which far exceeded available funds, highlight the extensive and ongoing need for affordable programs to serve Vermont youth. In total, grant funds will help create 1099 new summer 2022 & 2023 program slots and 790 new afterschool program slots. Grant funding will lead to a total of 389 new weeks of summer and afterschool programming, with 30 programs addressing affordability and 21 programs offering programming in underserved areas of the state.
Additionally, 37 are increasing inclusivity for all youth, by ensuring those from low-income backgrounds, youth of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth, English learners, youth with disabilities and/or special needs, migratory youth, rural youth, youth in foster care and youth experiencing homelessness are well-represented in the mix of youth participating in programs and have the needed resources to fully participate.
Each proposal was peer-reviewed by a pool of reviewers who represented national organizations, 15 states, and who had experience in afterschool and summer learning; youth development; diversity, equity, and inclusion; health; grants and grant making; higher and K-12 education; and profit and non-profit organizations.
More information and a complete list of grant recipients are available at https://vermontafterschool.org/expanding-access-grants/