The Vision_herosq

The Future of Universal Afterschool and Summer in Vermont 

Through universal afterschool and summer, Vermont has the unprecedented opportunity to ensure every youth who wants to attend an afterschool and summer program in our state has the opportunity to do so. 

A universal afterschool and summer model is a solution for all kids, all families, and all communities across our state. Every young person will know they have a place to go after school and over the summer, and every Vermont parent or caregiver will know their kids are safe and cared for when they can’t be at home. Youth will be able to pursue their career aspirations, build protective factors, develop workforce and life skills, and receive academic support. 

By building this system, every young person in every community will know that we believe that young people make a better Vermont. By 2025, Vermont will be well on its way to ensuring that youth and families who want to participate in high-quality afterschool and summer programming are able to do so because programs will be universally available, accessible, and affordable.


Across the country, afterschool programs have been chronically underfunded for decades, and the unmet demand among families has reached an all-time high. Here in Vermont, more than 26,000 youth each year are waiting for an available program.

In 2020, Governor Phil Scott announced a goal of offering universal afterschool across the state—meaning afterschool and summer programs would be accessible and affordable for all families and youth who want to enroll, particularly those who have low incomes and/or live in rural locations. Since then, Vermont Afterschool has been working with the administration and legislative champions to achieve this bold, unprecedented, and attainable vision. Once realized, Vermont will be the first state in the country to offer such a system of support and opportunity for all children, youth, families, and communities.

Our success is built on the leadership and hard work of hundreds of advocates, program providers, state agencies and policymakers who understand that a commitment to Vermont’s young people makes a better Vermont.


We are going to build a sustainable, fully funded universal afterschool and summer system by 2025. To get there, we’re taking a multi-year approach, using current funding sources as a bridge, and six keys to success: Commitment from lawmakers; Collaboration through the Vermont Interagency Afterschool Youth Task Force; Coordination between the interagency team, stakeholders, and programs on the ground; Improving Program Quality and Data Systems through professional development, youth engagement opportunities, and communicating the impact of afterschool and summer programs; Reaching Youth and Families through a commitment to equity and removing barriers and challenges to access to afterschool and summer programs; and the development of a Sustainable Funding source. 


As we continue to work to address needs created or worsened by the pandemic, afterschool and summer programs offer important opportunities for Vermont’s children and youth to engage, connect, and heal. They provide more time for learning and growth and allow children and youth to explore interests, build skills, and have valuable experiences. Afterschool and summer programs also help working families and play an important role in our communities. By creating a universal afterschool system in Vermont, we will position our state as a national leaderthe first in the country to offer universal afterschoolwhich will be an attractive benefit for families considering relocating their families. In fact, young people and families from other states will move to Vermont either to pursue training and experience in youth work or to raise their children in this supportive, wrap-around environment.


Nothing is more critical to this effort than hearing from young people about what they most want and need in afterschool programs and summer opportunities. That’s why Vermont Afterschool’s State Youth Advisory Group has designed the Vermont Youth Vision Board to hear directly from young people across Vermont about what life is like for youth in their communities right now, what programs and opportunities they would like to see afterschool and over the summer, and what other resources and supports would really make a difference. Check out some of the youth stories being collected from young people across Vermont.


In order to build a strong, sustainable universal afterschool and summer system we need to hear from many voices- parents and families, youth, program providers, state partners, advocacy organizations, educators, diversity groups, businesses and employers, community leaders, policy makers, and more. Get involved by staying informedtaking action, and giving a gift to support our work in the critical years to come.


Beginning with the successful 2021 Summer Matters grant initiative, the Afterschool & Summer Expanding Access Grants program in 2022 and 2023, and the Room For Me Grants in 2023 and 2024, Vermont Afterschool has awarded 170+ grants totaling more than $8 million to reduce gaps in Vermont’s current summer and afterschool system (kindergarten through grade 12) by addressing affordability, increasing availability, building long-lasting partnerships to promote sustainability, and piloting innovative approaches.

Our vision is bold. The universal afterschool and summer model will require strong, public-private partnerships among the state, schools, businesses, nonprofits, and program providers. We embrace our collective responsibility to ensure that all Vermont youth are safe, healthy, supported, educated, and engaged. We’re up for the challenge. Together, we are forging futures with Vermont youth.