Youth Councils

Our Work with Youth Councils

We believe that young people make a better Vermont. We value youth as they are. Just by being young people living here, they enrich our community. We recognize the value of youth in our community and know that young people are problem-solvers who are eager to be engaged. 

Vermont Afterschool is committed to supporting youth councils across the state. Since 2017, we have been leading statewide discussions on the importance of youth voice, advocating for youth to be included in policy discussions, convening groups of youth to work on issues such as Youth Rights and Health Equity, and helping local communities and organizations to establish their own youth councils. 

Currently, we are also following a bill in the Vermont State Legislature that would create a statewide youth council. The proposed statewide youth council would collect input from youth across Vermont and help inform the development of policies that affect young people.

State Youth Advisory Groups

Since 2020, Vermont Afterschool has been convening State Youth Advisory Groups to provide input on important policy matters concerning Vermont’s young people. In 2020, close to 50 young people came together via the internet to work throughout the summer and, despite the pandemic, develop recommendations for a State Youth Council. Their work helped inform the writing of H.293, a Vermont State Legislature bill signed into law by Governor Scott in 2022. The law created a State Youth Council to collect input from youth across Vermont and help inform the development of policies that affect young people.

In 2021, a second State Youth Advisory Group was formed to grapple with issues of health equity. In partnership with VT Rays and VCHIP, the group looked at the intersectionality of access to afterschool programs, access to primary health care, and access to mental health supports. Their findings and recommendations are being shared with decision-makers and health practitioners through avenues such as Grand Rounds at the UVM Medical Center.

Now, in 2022, a third round of young people have come together as a State Youth Advisory Group to work in partnership with the governor’s office and the Interagency Afterschool Youth Task Force on the creation of universal afterschool and summer in Vermont. In May 2022, the SYAG released the 2022 Universal Afterschool and Summer Report, which contained youth recommendations for the future of afterschool in Vermont.

The 2022 group feels strongly about seeing youth voice and leadership at every level and have kicked off a Youth Stories Initiative to collect input and ideas from young people across the state. Stay tuned for more stories and recommendations to come from this group!

Local Youth Councils

Our approach to youth councils is not about creating an elite group of youth who are charged with making all the decisions. Nor do we expect any discrete group of youth to be able to represent the viewpoints of all the youth in their community. Instead, we work with communities and local organizations to build youth councils with a central focus on elevating the voices of as many youth as possible at every stage of the process. Our youth council members are amplifiers of youth voice; not token or elite youth who try to speak on behalf of all other youth.

Currently, Vermont Afterschool is supporting local youth councils in 8-10 communities across the state. With support from the Northfield Savings Bank Foundation and the Vermont Department of Health, we provide grant funding that allows for stipends for participating youth and funds to support youth-driven projects. Vermont Afterschool guides the local youth councils through a participatory budgeting process that gives youth the opportunity to submit project proposals that address community needs and allows local youth to vote on the projects they want to see implemented. The winning projects will be funded from youth to youth!

To learn more about how we use participatory budgeting process with the youth councils, watch the video below.

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Interested in help with starting your own youth council? Please get in touch with us at Hope to hear from you and the young people in your program or community soon!