As we emerge from the pandemic, Vermont Afterschool, in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Education and Vermont Agency of Human Services, along with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ Office, recently coordinated Governor Phil Scott’s and Senator Sanders’ vision to provide expanded summer enrichment opportunities for youth statewide. The work we do this summer will meet the immediate needs of Vermont families and inform our collective efforts to provide universal afterschool in the future.
We know that this summer, more than ever before, matters for our kids and families.
The lack of in-person school, the loss of connection with peers, the limits on activities and access to everything from nutrition to sports, drama, music, clubs, and social events make it crucial that we help our youth re-connect and re-engage. Together, we are working hard to ensure robust, enriching, and fun options for kids from PK-12, as well as young adults.
Federal funding, secured by Senator Sanders in the American Rescue Plan, will allow schools and others to build summer programs focused on meeting Vermont students’ needs. School-based programming will be funded through the Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds distributed directly to school districts. The state is also directing almost $4 million of federal funding to support programs not directly connected with a local school, school district, or independent school to increase program capacity and access via the Summer Matters for All Grant Program.
This summer is a time to celebrate our transition out of the grip of this pandemic and we know we need to focus on our youth.
This summer, we want to send three key messages:
- Summer is important. Our kids need to be able to enjoy this summer and use it as a time to re-connect with their friends, family, and communities.
- Summer is safe. We can and will design guidelines and strategies to keep kids safe while they spend their time being kids.
- Summer programs are available. We are working with our partners to ensure that there are program options across the state that are accessible and affordable for families.
Vermont’s summer programs are ready to welcome kids and teens back to fun, friends, and adventures. Together, we can create a great summer for our kids that will help them make new memories and emerge from this crisis strong, resilient, and hopeful.