Data Digest: LGBT students and afterschool participation

Posted on July 2nd, 2018 in: Blog

This blog post, by our Research Analyst Erin Schwab, is the first in a monthly series unpacking data from the 2017 YRBS survey and making connections to out-of-school time programming in Vermont.

According to 2017 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey* released by the Vermont Department of Health, high school students in Vermont who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) are significantly less likely to participate in extracurricular activities than their heterosexual/cisgender peers. Among the 20,077 high school students in Vermont that answered the question about participation in afterschool activities, 62% reported participating in between one and 19 hours per week. Among students that identified as both heterosexual and cisgender (not transgender) 63% participated in between one and 19 hours per week. However, among LGBT students, 53% participated in between one and 19 hours per week. Among students who reported that they were unsure of their sexual orientation, 56% participated in between one and 19 hours of afterschool activities per week.

LGBT students were also more likely to report that they did not participate in any afterschool activities. Forty-one percent of LGBT reported participating in zero hours of afterschool activities per week while 31% of students who identified as both heterosexual and cisgender reported the same. Thirty-eight percent of students who were unsure of their sexual orientation reported not participating in any afterschool activities.

Outright Vermont did some deeper analysis of the 2015 YRBS data with regard to lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth (the 2015 survey did not include an option to report being transgender). LGB youth were more likely to report engaging in risky behaviors than their heterosexual peers (skipping school, being in a physical fight, using tobacco, using marijuana, binge drinking, feeling sad, hurting themselves, and attempting suicide). The CDC looked at the nationwide 2015 YRBS data and reported that LGB youth were at a greater risk of being bullied, being absent from school, having depression, attempting suicide, and contracting STDs. Transgender individuals are at an increased risk of developing depression and other mental health conditions. Alarmingly, 41% of transgender individuals will attempt suicide at some point in their lives. 

Meanwhile, afterschool, summer learning, expanded learning, and out-of-school time programs can be important places to help youth stay safe and healthy. We know from research done by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids in 2000 and by UC Irvine in 2007 that when youth participate in afterschool activities, they are less likely to abuse drugs and other substances; have unprotected sex; and get into fights; and engage in other risky activities. The results from these studies also suggest that when students participate in afterschool activities, they are likely to get better grades and improve their social skills with peers.

And we know from the 2015 YRBS data analysis that these risk behavior outcomes are minimized and positive outcomes are maximized for high school students that participate in up to 19 hours of afterschool activities per week.

It is clear that LGBT youth in Vermont are more vulnerable than their heterosexual/cisgender peers for experiencing these negative outcomes. It is also clear that participation in afterschool activities help to lessen these negative outcomes and increase positive ones. So why are the LGBT youth in Vermont–those who arguably could stand to benefit the most from afterschool programming–not reaping these benefits at the same rate as their peers? This is a question that we need to ask repeatedly in order to identify the barriers that lead to fewer LGBT students participating in afterschool programs.

As a field, we need to work to increase access to afterschool programming for youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, as well as for those who are questioning their orientation or gender identity or who identify as gender non-conforming. We need to work on inclusion and safe spaces for all. Providing afterschool programs that cater specifically to LGBT youth such as this one in Ohio could be a starting point. Our work is truly cut out for us.

*Every two years, the Vermont Department of Health in partnership with the Vermont Agency of Education sponsor the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) that is completed by middle school and high school students in the state. The YRBS is a national survey that is used to monitor risk behaviors that contribute to death and disability. In 2015, Vermont Afterschool’s application to include a question about participation in extracurricular activities on Vermont’s version of the high school survey was accepted. The question was renewed for the 2017 survey. In 2017, 20,653 high school students from 69 schools in Vermont completed the 109-item survey. For more information on YRBS, visit: healthvermont.gov/health-statistics-vital-records/population-health-surveys-data/youth-risk-behavior-survey-yrbs

Celebrate National Summer Learning Day on July 12th

Posted on June 4th, 2018 in: Blog

Join education advocates across the nation for National Summer Learning Day on July 12, 2018. This special day is aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe, and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to learn and have a successful year.

Every year when the final school bell rings, millions of children need a place to spend their summer. While many children and youth participate in summer camps and other enrichment activities, lower income youth do not have access to the same opportunities, and suffer the sad reality of summer learning loss. In fact, statistics show that lower-income youth can lose months of grade level equivalency in mathematics and reading achievement, while their middle class peers gain (Cooper, 1996). The gaps in summer learning opportunities thus have the effect of even further widening the achievement gap.

How can I participate in National Summer Learning Day? 

The quickest and easiest way to find all of the resources associated with National Summer Learning Day is to visit the website that NSLA has set up here. In addition to resources like “10 Tips for Celebrating Summer Learning Day,” you can also register events taking place to support summer learning or find events happening in your community. We would love to see even more Vermont events up on the map, so that we can better connect youth and their families with summer programs taking place in their communities.

Social media is always a fun and easy way to get involved, if you can’t host an event or participate in other ways. You can also follow the National Summer Learning Association’s Facebook and Twitter for regular updates, news, and resource related to summer learning.

And don’t forget to use these hashtags to mark your posts:  #KeepKidsLearning #SummerMatters #SummerLearning

Free CCV Online Course for Fall 2018

Posted on April 28th, 2018 in: Blog

For the Fall Semester 2018, Vermont Afterschool is partnering with the Child Development Division (CDD) to offer a 3-credit, online course for afterschool professionals through the Community College of Vermont (CCV).

 This is a FREE online course for those who are working in a licensed afterschool/childcare program!

Introduction to Afterschool Education and Care (EDU 1320). This course engages students in an exploration of the growing field of afterschool age care and education. This course provides students with an understanding of the history of the afterschool field and examines the skills and training that are needed to successfully develop and administer high-quality programming in afterschool settings. Topics include: history of the afterschool age education and the core competency areas for professionals, including child and youth development, health and safety, program organization and professional development, family and community, and teaching and learning.

Semester Dates: September 4 – December 11
Instructor: Jannice Ellen
How to register: Email Tricia Pawlik-York for an application. *Note that you do NOT register  with CCV directly.*

Vermont Afterschool receives Stand for Your Mission Award honorary mention

Posted on March 30th, 2018 in: Blog

It’s with great honor that we share our Board of Directors (BOD) has received honorary mention for the BoardSource Stand for Your Mission Award. BoardSource created the Stand for Your Mission Award to recognize nonprofit boards that have established advocacy as an expectation for engaged and effective board leadership, and, by doing so, are helping their organizations realize their missions. Out of 125 nominations from organizations across the country, being runner-up is a HUGE accomplishment. Vermont Afterschool will receive $1,000 to help the organization’s advocacy efforts.



Need funding? Check out the CDD Afterschool Care Grants

Posted on February 20th, 2018 in: Blog

We excited to announce that we are currently accepting applications for the CDD Afterschool Care Grants!

All afterschool programs applying for these funds must be licensed or working on licensure through the Child Development Division, Vermont Department for Children and Families, Agency of Human Services and be in good regulatory standing for the past year.

The CDD Afterschool Care Grant Program is designed to increase the capacity and quality of regulated Vermont afterschool programs. The funds are available to serve children in grades K-12. Grant activities are to impact these children and their families in one of two ways: increase the number of children served in afterschool programs, or improve the quality of program services.

–> Applications will be accepted by May 1st, 2018.  The grant period for afterschool care grants is from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

New this year, each grantee will work with a Vermont Afterschool coach throughout the grant period. As follow up to grant, each grantee must submit a summary of how coaching supported grant outcomes. Also, at least one afterschool professional from the grantee’s program is expected to attend the 2018 Vermont Afterschool Conference.

A technical assistance webinar is scheduled for April 11, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. This webinar is open to all prospective grantees and please email Tricia Pawlik-York to register or if you have further questions: triciapawlikyork@vermontafterschool.org.

Grant applications and further information can be found on our website here:

CDD Afterschool Care Grants

Young Vermonters gather to draft a youth declaration of rights

Posted on December 8th, 2017 in: Blog

Young Vermonters ages 9-22 gathered recently to draft a Youth Declaration of Rights and express what they feel are salient needs for young people across the state.

The 38 youth spent the day at the Chandler Music Hall on October 20, 2017 meeting new people from around the state, learning about what a right is, and engaging in discussions together. Pulling together different ideas from diverse ages, the youth came up with major categories of rights including Mental Health, Natural Environment, Social Supports and Connections, Justice and Equality, Hobbies/Entertainment, Education, Work/Transportation, Physical Health, Home/Shelter.

According to Sabrina, a student at Northfield High School, the highlight of the day was “meeting everyone and hearing everyone’s opinions and ideas.” Sabrina saw the day as a step in the right direction and reflected, “I hope that what we did today has a long term purpose.”

Organized by Vermont Afterschool, the Youth Declaration of Rights was envisioned as an opportunity for young people to express their ideas, as well as a way to help broaden the conversation around policy decisions that affect youth. In crafting the specific rights under each category, youth spoke passionately about safety, privacy, identity, and youth voice in state decisions.

They also emphasized the right to connect to each other through technology and transportation, opportunities for artistic expression, and access to outdoor recreational and natural spaces. They wrote that they have a right to know about the environment and what is being done to it. They named safe and affordable health care as a right and specifically called out having people in society who support their mental well-being.

“As we approach challenges in our state, whether it be the academic achievement gap or the opioid crisis, we need to think more holistically about how we support our young people,” stated Vermont Afterschool Executive Director Holly Morehouse. “This was a chance for us to listen to youth in their own words and it was incredibly exciting to see them engage in deep conversations about what they feel they truly need to support their well-being and future success. It is our hope that this Youth Declaration of Rights is just the start of deeper, broader conversations in our state.”

Sarah Kleinman, who is also the Director of UVM 4-H Youth Programs, was one of several facilitators who led groups throughout exercises and activities to help youth speak up and determine which rights were most important to them. “This experience gives me hope and optimism for the future,” stated Kleinman. “It’s clear that Vermont has caring and contributing young people in our midst!”

Holly Morehouse presented the Youth Declaration of Rights at the Vermont Child Poverty Council on November 16, 2017, and partner organizations that work with youth within the 9-26 age range gathered for for a forum on Youth Work and Policy in Vermont on December 5, 2017.

STEM data dashboard updated with spring/summer 2017 data

Posted on November 8th, 2017 in: Blog

Beginning in 2016, Vermont Afterschool has partnered with the PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education & Resilience (PEAR), an organization that creates and fosters evidence-based innovations for education. Their Common Instrument tool is used to assess child and adolescent interest and engagement in science and/or engineering. We worked with the PEAR team to develop three versions of the Common Instrument to be used by Vermont students in grades K-12 that attend STEM-related afterschool and summer learning programming – tinkering, science, and engineering. These instruments included the questions from the Common Instrument in addition to measures from PEAR’s Holistic Student Assessment (HSA) to measure critical thinking and perseverance (for tinkering students), as well as collaboration and teamwork (for science and engineering students).

In spring of 2016, 199 students that participated in a total of 13 tinkering programs throughout Vermont completed assessments. The corresponding results were posted in our first iteration of our STEM data dashboard last year. This past spring and summer, a total of 281 students enrolled in 20 tinkering, science and engineering programs throughout the state completed assessments. The aggregated results from both years appear on our newly updated STEM data dashboard.

The updated dashboard includes the results as analyzed by PEAR for the students in the science, engineering, and tinkering programs in spring and summer of 2017. PEAR found that overall, Vermont students in all three types of programs reported overall gains in science/engineering interest as a result of participating in their programs. Tinkering students reported significant gains in their critical thinking abilities and perseverance. PEAR did not provide a statistical analysis for collaboration and teamwork gains among science and engineering students, but as seen in the charts below, students on average expressed that they felt more able to do things like “help people with their projects,” and “change my mind when other people have better ideas,” as a result of participating in their programs.

Compared with the rest of the nation, PEAR found that Vermont students reported significantly higher ratings of science/engineering interest as a result of participating in science and engineering programs. In particular, Vermont girls that participated in science programs reported significantly higher levels of science interest than girls at the national level. Both Vermont boys and girls reported significantly higher ratings of engineering interest than their national counterparts for those who participated in such programs in 2017.

To view our interactive data dashboard updated with results from the spring/summer 2017 programs, visit: http://www.vermontafterschool.org/stem/data. Results can be filtered by various criterion for comparison purposes.

You can also learn more about PEAR at www.pearweb.org.

Lessons from the Field: Examining Exemplar Principal & Afterschool Partnerships

Posted on October 3rd, 2017 in: Blog

This year I received a unique writing assignment. Inspired by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, who profiled two principals in Vermont who are strong supporters of afterschool programs, I decided to interview a few select Vermont principals with the goal of gathering information on what makes a stellar afterschool/principal partnership. Given that the depth of partnerships between afterschool programs and schools has been shown to improve student academic outcomes (Bennett, 2015)[1], this is an important topic for our organization and statewide community to consider.

To start, I reached out to afterschool directors for their nominations of outstanding principals who actively collaborate. From there, I chose four principals from across the state and attempted to capture a snapshot of different schools in Vermont. There’s a big city elementary school with diverse demographics, the larger rural elementary school pulling in students from a number of area towns, the middle school in a struggling post-industrial community, and the elementary school in a picturesque small college town.

All are principals schools with 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool programs, which rely on federal grant funding distributed through a statewide grant competition for the purpose of providing high-quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities for students who attend schools where 40% or more of the students are from low-income families (free/reduced lunch assistance) and/or are approved for Title 1 status.

Any and all school-based afterschool program staff should ponder the following insights and perspectives from the principal’s office. These are hard-working, thoughtful, and inclusive principals who are committed to educating all students. Which is why they see afterschool and summer learning programs as being integral to their school systems and why their profiles are worth a read.

The Supporter: Steve Cone, Riverside Middle School

The Communicator: Judi Pulsifer, Neshobe School

The Visionary: Dorinne Dorfman, Champlain Elementary School

The Resource Provider: David Manning, Johnson Elementary School

















Recommendations and Lessons Learned:[2]

1) Effective Collaboration. Ask to attend school staff meetings; invite teachers to afterschool meetings.

2) Shared Vision. Afterschool programs can build on school values by creating programming that supports the social fabric of the school; likewise the principal needs to visit afterschool program to observe and learn how the afterschool program contributes to the growth of students. Personally invite the principal to visit and emphasize how your afterschool program contributes to the shared vision.

3) Relationship Building. Informal relationships take time and trust; invest in the development of these relationships particularly between school day and afterschool leaders. Think long-term and incremental.

4) Complementary Skills. Emphasize the role of afterschool programs in complementing school day academics vs. replicating classroom lessons; align with any social-emotional learning strategies the school is already utilizing.

Further Reading:

Collaborating to Build a New Day for Learning: A Toolkit for Principals, Afterschool, and Community Leaders (National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2010)

Leading After-School Learning Communities: What Principals Should Know and Be Able To Do (National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2006)

Building a Culture of Attendance: Schools and Afterschool Programs Together Can and Should Make a Difference (Expanding Minds and Opportunities, 2013)

Linking Schools and Afterschool Through Social and Emotional Learning (American Institutes for Research, 2015)

After the Last Bell: The Multiple Roles of Principal in School-Based Afterschool Programs (Afterschool Matters, 2007)

[1] Bennett, T.L. (2015). Examining levels of alignment between school and afterschool and associations on student academic achievement. Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities, 1(2), 4-22.

[2] Based on Anthony, K. & Morra, J. (2016). Creating holistic partnerships between school and afterschool. Afterschool Matters, 24, 33-42. Connelly, G. & Young, P. (2013). More than just another “to-do” on the list: The benefits of strong school, principal, and afterschool/community partnerships. In T.K Peterson (Ed.), Expanding minds and opportunities: Leveraging the power of afterschool and summer learning for student success. Washington, DC: Collaborative Communications Group.

Our Very Own Holly Morehouse to Receive the 2017 Con Hogan Award!

Posted on September 22nd, 2017 in: Blog

The Vermont Community Foundation and the organizing committee for the Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial, Community Leadership are pleased to announce that Holly Morehouse, Executive Director of Vermont Afterschool, Inc., will be honored with this year’s award.
The $15,000 award, to be used however the recipient chooses, will be presented to Morehouse at a reception on October 4th at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.

Established by a group of his colleagues, the annual award recognizes the life’s work of Con Hogan by rewarding each year a community leader who shares his vision of a better Vermont and who seizes the responsibility for making that vision a reality. The award is given to a leader who shows deep community involvement, generosity, enthusiasm, a collaborative approach, and a focus on data and outcomes in his or her work.

As one of the co-founders of the statewide nonprofit Vermont Afterschool, Inc. (VTA), established in 2009, Morehouse has played a major role in advancing high quality afterschool and summer learning opportunities for all Vermont children and youth. Her goal is to make the “third learning space”—the space after home and school where children spend the bulk of their time—meaningful.
Her focus on creating statewide partnerships and collaborations, with strong diversified funding, promotes the education of children and youth in creative ways that extend beyond the school day and school year. In her role as Executive Director of VTA, Morehouse brings 20 years of experience in project management, community-based decision making, communication and collaboration processes, and leadership to her work.

The committee noted that, like Hogan, Morehouse is effective at making a difference by staying focused on the big picture, bringing together people with diverse views, and using data and analysis to stay on track. She has developed a network of partners both in and outside of Vermont and advocates policies that encourage partnership, complementary connections, and collaboration.

For more information about the award and to register for the upcoming reception on October 4th from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., please visit vermontcf.org/ConHoganOct4.

Youth Rights Summit on October 20th

Posted on September 13th, 2017 in: Blog

Building on our work with Youth Ambassadors over the past six years and all the work around youth voice and youth engagement that programs are doing throughout the state, Vermont Afterschool would like to invite youth from expanded learning programs to a Youth Rights Summit on Friday, October 20, 2017.

The goal of the youth summit is to bring together youth ages 9-26 from across Vermont to create a Youth Declaration of Rights. We believe that knowing what is truly most pressing and most important to our young people will help all of us design and develop better and more effective programs and resources.

Event Details:
Chandler Music Hall
71 Main St. Randolph, VT
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Lunch is provided
Download the flyer to share (older youth version here and middle school youth version here)
There is NO COST to attend this event; all youth ages 9-26 are welcome!

There will be a separate schedule of activities for adults/parents/drivers. Limited travel stipends are available and please contact us if you have further questions. There will a bus traveling from Burlington too!


  • If you are an afterschool program provider or staff person looking to bring multiple youth, please email Alissa Faber with their names and ages, as well as any additional chaperones.
  • Individual participants can fill out the form below:

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