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Funding Opportunity: Afterschool for All Grants

Posted on March 5th, 2019 in: Blog

Vermont Afterschool is proud to be working with Vermont’s Agency of Human Services to establish the Afterschool for All Grant Program. The purpose of the grant program is to support efforts to increase access to afterschool and summer learning programs in Vermont. Up to $600,000 total will be awarded through this grant process over the next two years.

Funding Guidelines

Funding will be given to projects to start or expand afterschool and/or summer learning programs in Vermont, with priority given to programs that:

  • Increase access for low-income children and youth;
  • Create or expand options in underserved areas of the state;
  • Serve adolescents and teenagers; and/or
  • Foster skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

Applicants may request funding for one or two years. In year one, project funding will start June 24, 2019, and run through June 30, 2020. Projects submitting for a second year of funding must meet all grant expectations in year one. Funding for year two will start July 1, 2020, and run through June 30, 2021. It is expected that awarded grants will not exceed more than $50,000 per year; however, proposals with a documented need to exceed this amount will be accepted and considered through the Letter of Interest process.

Eligible applicants must be located in Vermont and serve children and youth in Vermont. Eligible entities include:

  • Non-profit organizations with current 501.3(c) status;
  • Schools, school districts, and supervisory unions;
  • Towns, public recreation departments, and municipal government organizations; and
  • Licensed childcare centers.

Interested entities should submit a Letter of Interest electronically by March 27, 2019. Only applicants submitting a Letter of Interest will be considered for the full proposal process. Questions? Email Tricia (triciapawlikyork@vermontafterschool.org) or call 802-448-3464.

If selected to submit a full application, applicants may be required to submit financial documentation, including a recent independent financial review and/or audit report.

Timeline and Key Dates for 2019

Wednesday, March 27: Letter of Interest Due by 5 p.m. and submitted here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Afterschool_LOI

Monday, April 22: Invitation to Submit Full Proposal Sent

Wednesday, May 15: Full Proposals Due

Monday, June 10: Grant Notifications

Monday, June 24: Project Funding Starts

Helpful Hints

  • Character counts include spaces and punctuation. Responses that go over the set character limits cannot be accepted.
  • All sections of the Letter of Interest must be completed at the time of submittal. Partially completed applications cannot be saved in the online Survey Monkey form.
  • A full list of questions is provided below to help you prepare to submit the LOI online.

Letter of Interest Questions

  1. Project Title (character limit: 100)
  2. Contact Information for Project Lead (Name, Organization, Address, City/Town, State/Province, ZIP/Postal Code, Email Address, Phone Number)
  3. Amount of funding requested per year. Please indicate if the request is for one or two years. (character limit: 100)
  4. Is this a new program or an expansion to an existing program?
  5. Project Summary (character limit: 2000).
  6. Priority Area(s) Address by the Project. Please rank the options below in regard to your proposed project with 1 indicating a top priority. If a particular area does not apply, please select N/A for that item.
  • Increase access for low-income children and youth
  • Create or expand options in underserved areas of the state
  • Serve adolescents and teenagers
  • Foster skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
  1. Age Range of the Children and/or Youth Expected to be Served (character limit: 50)
  2. Total Number of Children and/or Youth Expected to be Served (character limit: 50)
  3. Partner Organizations (character limit: 1200)
  4. Other sources of funding that will be used to support this project (character limit: 1200)

New SEL video

Posted on March 4th, 2019 in: Blog

We’re thrilled to share our new social emotional learning (SEL) video produced by Mondo Mediaworks. This video highlights our SEL leadership and training initiative, also known as the Youth Resiliency Project, that is funded by the Northfield Savings Bank Foundation and launched in Fall 2018. This project is focused on supporting afterschool and out-of-school time programs and professionals in helping children and youth to build resiliency and SEL skills.

Many thanks to the staff and students at One Planet and Burlington Kids afterschool programs for their willingness to participate in this short video!

Vermont Afterschool’s Youth Resiliency Project is focused on supporting afterschool and out-of-school time programs and professionals in helping children and youth to build resilience and social emotional learning (SEL) skills. Our goals with this project are to:

  • Increase competency across the region so that more afterschool, summer, and out-of-school time programs are trauma-informed;
  • Create a Leadership Institute for Resilience in Afterschool (LIRA) to empower peer experts in the field; and
  • Establish networks of support for afterschool program sites so they build and sustain SEL best practices going forward via a communities of practice training model.

Impact Update March 2019:

  • To date, we have trained 219 afterschool professionals and direct service staff members in SEL and trauma-informed strategies
  • There are 5 different communities of practice running with 43 different program sites participating
  • LIRA is training 14 afterschool leaders over the course of the next six months with participants receiveing a SEL micro-credential at the conclusion
  • Thus far, 6,216 students in grades PreK-12 from a total of 47 towns across Chittenden, Orange, and Washington counties have benefitted from this Project

March’s Data Digest: Weight and Obesity

Posted on March 3rd, 2019 in: Blog

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

Back in September, our data blog focused on screen time and physical activity; we demonstrated that data suggest that afterschool programs are good ways to keep kids off of their screens and physically active. These findings are also related to weight and obesity as the obesity epidemic in the United States affects not only adults but also young people. A report from the National Center for Health Statistics show that nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity. Afterschool programs can play an important role in reducing this rate, and we have data to back up that claim.

In 2017-18, 97% of 21st Century Community Learning Centers reported that they provided students with at least 20 minutes of physical activity for every two hours of programming provided. Likewise, 97% also reported that they provided students with regular access to healthy snacks and clean drinking water. Physical activity and proper nutrition are key components of keeping children and youth at healthy weights. Data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reveal that increased weekly participation in afterschool activities among Vermont youth are correlated with a decreased likelihood that those youth will be overweight or obese, as indicated by their body-mass indexes.

Data from the 18,095 high school students that provided both their height and weight and indicated their weekly hours of participation in afterschool activities on the 2017 YRBS revealed the following: among youth that did not participate in any afterschool activities, 35% were overweight or obese. Among those who participated in between one and four hours, 25% were overweight or obese; among those who participated in between five and nine hours, 20% were overweight or obese; and among those who participated in between 10 and 19 hours, 20% were overweight or obese.

A similar downward trend is seen when looking at just obesity. Similar to the national data, roughly one in five (19%) of students who did not participate in any hours of afterschool programming were obese, as indicated by having a BMI of 30 or above. As the number of hours of participation increased, the percentage of students who were obese predicacly decreased. Eleven percent of those who participated in one to four weekly hours of programming were obese; eight percent of students who participated in five to nine weekly hours of programming were obese; and finally, seven percent of high school students who participated in between 10 and 19 hours per week of afterschool programming were obese.

We are grateful to be able to report that afterschool participation is linked with a reduced risk of high school students in Vermont being overweight or obese. Since programs are doing their part to provide active programming and healthy food options, we are working together toward a more healthy Vermont!

Read past Data Digest blog posts here:

Learning Exchange with Dr. Lasse Siurala

Posted on February 7th, 2019 in: Blog

Shorter school days, higher test scores, and more youth thriving – what can Vermont learn from Finland about helping young people succeed? From February 18 to February 22, 2019, noted Finish youth expert Dr. Lasse Siurala visited youth programs and spoke at several venues about the strategies Finland is using to help its youth gain skills for a thriving adulthood. We were so lucky to have him here and we really enjoyed the conversations he inspired throughout his travels in Vermont.

Helping Youth Succeed: Strategies from Finland with Dr. Lasse Siurala
UVM Alumni House on February 19, 2019

Why Lasse?
Finland is a country that is passionately committed to helping its youth succeed – not just in school and at work but at life. We were thrilled to have Dr. Siurala visit us, to speak with us about what Vermont can do for its young people, and share some of the positive approaches that have been so successful in Finland. Dr. Siurala is considered the Finnish father of youth work and was the Director of Youth Services in Helsinki for many years. We have much to learn from Lasse and Finland on how we can support young people in Vermont. The Finnish model is unique in that they have a short school day (until noon) and then children and youth go to afterschool or out-of-school time programs at youth/community centers. All children and youth are encouraged to find a “hobby” or interest, with trained “youth workers” supporting young people in growing up, getting ready for independent life, and feeling included in society.

What are we doing in Vermont?
The visit was hosted by Vermont Afterschool, Inc. and the VT9to26 Coalition, representing dozens of organizations with a focus on supporting Vermont’s young people. Holly Morehouse, executive director of Vermont Afterschool and manager of the VT9to26 Coalition, traveled to Finland in 2017 and 2018 in order to learn from a country with exceptional out-of-school time programming. She spent several weeks in Finland last spring touring afterschool programs, youth centers, and researching that country’s comprehensive youth strategy.

As a result of Holly’s time in Finland, she became fired up about the concept of youth voice and increasing our attention on older youth as a unique and special time of life. Born from her travels came the idea of a Youth Rights Summit, which we hosted in October 2017. At that event, Vermont youth ages 9-22 came together to co-create a Youth Declaration of Rights. Holly was inspired to start the VT9to26 Coalition, as well as a statewide youth council, a youth participatory budgeting process that is the current Youth4Youth Grant Program, and professional development opportunities for those working with older youth during the out-of-school time hours.

In 2018, Vermont Afterschool was selected by the Vermont Community Foundation as a Cornerstone Partner. This funding has enabled Vermont Afterschool to focus on closing the opportunity gap by strengthening, and expanding access to, out-of-school time programs and opportunities for older youth. We are grateful to the Vermont Community Foundation for supporting our work and the VT9to26 Coalition, which is a project housed under Vermont Afterschool.

Itinerary
Dr. Siurala presented a public lecture at the UVM Alumni House on February 19, 2019 in an event held jointly with the UVM School of Education and Social Services. A video recording of Dr. Siurala’s talk can be viewed above or here. You can watch a recap of Dr. Siurala’s week in Vermont, which was full of many activities and site visits, on this interview that aired on Channel 17.

Stay in touch
Want to hear more about the Finland model? Interested in our work? Sign up for our e-newsletters and/or join the VT9to26 Coalition. All are welcome.

About Lasse
Dr. Siurala has a long background in managing youth services on local and international levels. He is an experienced youth researcher and an expert in youth policy. He has been the Director of Youth Services at the City of Helsinki (with 300 youth workers and 60 youth centres) and the Director of Youth and Sports at the Council of Europe (with 47 member states in Europe). He is also a well known youth researcher and expert worldwide, having spoken throughout Europe and in China, Canada, and the United States. He has been an Associate Professor at Aalto University, Helsinki (today an Adjunct Professor), he has been the Howland Endowed Chair, University of Minnesota (Extension Center for Youth Development), and currently works as a lecturer of youth work at Tallinn University (Estonia) and as a Special Advisor to the Humak University of Applied Sciences (Youth Worker education in Finland).

Dr. Siurala’s areas of expertise include: managing integrated youth policies/projects; youth participation; measuring the impact of youth work/youth development (including the potential of a narrative approach); the role of youth work in Europe as as an educational field; youth work in Finland; digital youth work, and other new forms of youth work; and the role of history in understanding youth work/youth development. Some of his international publications include:

Siurala, L, Dierker, B & Mäkelä, L (2011) Chasing policy objectives, structures and resources – US and European practices in the field of youth and culture

Siurala, Lasse & Heini Turkia (2012) Celebrating pluralism: Beyond established forms of youth participation, in Loncle, Patricia et al (eds) Youth participation in Europe, Beyond discourses, practices and realities,

Siurala, L & Nöjd, T (2015) Youth Work Quality Assessment, The self and peer assessment model

Siurala, L (2015) Interprofessional collaboration: Easy to agree with, difficult to implement, Youth Partnership, Coyote nr 23, Strasbourg

Siurala, L & Coussée, F & Suurpää, L & Williamson, H (eds) (2016) The History of Youth Work in Europe, Relevance for today’s youth work policy, vol 5, Council of Europe, Strasbourg

Ord, J with M. Carletti, S Cooper, C. Dansac, D Morciano, L. Siurala and M. Taru (eds) “The Impact of Youth Work in Europe: A Study of Five European Countries (pp. 49-62), Helsinki 2018

Siurala, L. (2018) Managing Digital Youth Work, Paper presented at the InterCity Youth Conference in Thessaloniki, Greece 8-10th October 2018 (www.intercityyouth.eu)

Kalala Mabuluki, E. & Siurala, L. Lost in translation – Why aren’t integrated youth policies translated into practice? Les Cahiers de l’action – INJEP, Paris (forthcoming April 2019)

 

 

February’s Data Digest: Safe Sex

Posted on February 6th, 2019 in: Blog

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

Did you know that this month is the American Sexual Health Association’s National Condom Month? Happy February! And what does this have to do with afterschool? Glad you asked. Data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reveal that increased weekly participation in afterschool activities among Vermont youth are correlated with an increased likelihood that those who are sexually active youth will use protection. The data also show that increased participation in afterschool activities are linked with lower rates of sexual activity overall for youth in Vermont.

This isn’t surprising. We know from research that afterschool programs can play a positive role in reducing sexual activity among teenagers which naturally leads to fewer teen pregnancies. A December 2002 research article in Pediatrics reported that sexual behaviors among teens was less prevalent for those who were in supervised activities in the after-school hours. Among boys in particular, sexually transmitted diseases were less prevalent for the afterschool participants. Furthermore, a 2002 study of the Children’s Aid Society-Carrera program, a year-round afterschool program with a comprehensive youth development orientation in NYC showed that female program participants were significantly less likely to be sexually active and become pregnant than non-program participants. They also had significantly increased odds of having used a condoms and other forms of birth control.

In the spring of 2017 over 20,000 Vermont students in grades 9-12 took the YRBS. We were fortunate to have a question on the survey that asked youth to report the approximate number of hours that they participated in afterschool activities. There were also two questions related to sexual activity, the results of which we cross-tabulated with the results from our item about afterschool participation. The findings were encouraging:

  • Afterschool participants were less likely to be sexually active than those who did not participate in such activities.
  • Likewise, the percentage of sexually active youth who reported having unprotected sex decreased as their hours of participation in afterschool programming increased.

Here are the details of the findings: among youth that did not participate in any afterschool activities, 34% were sexually active (defined as those who had sex within the three months leading up to the survey). Among those who participated in between one and four hours, 25% were sexually active; among those who participated in between five and nine hours, 26% were sexually active; and among those who participated in between 10 and 19 hours, 29% were sexually active.

Youth who were sexually active responded to a question about whether they used a contraceptive during their most recent sexual encounter. Among students who did not participate in any afterschool programming, this rate was 10.2%. Among those who participated in between one and four hours, 6% did not use contraception; among those who participated in between five and nine hours, 4.4% did not and among those who participated in between 10 and 19 hours, 4.2% did not. It seems that youth in afterschool programming were compelled to make better and safer choices in regard to sexual activity.

In Vermont, on average, 7.2% of those who were sexually active reported that they did not use any method to prevent pregnancy during their last sexual intercourse. This was significantly lower than the national 2017 average of 13.8% of sexually active youth.

Once again, we are pleased to report that participation in afterschool activities among high school students in Vermont support lower instances of these youth engaging in risk behaviors.

Read past Data Digest blog posts here:

Youth4Youth Grants OPEN

Posted on January 11th, 2019 in: Blog

The Vermont Youth Council’s Youth4Youth Grants are available to young people to fund ideas that will help promote youth rights, youth expression, and creativity across the state. The Y4Y grants are managed by the Vermont Youth Council (a program of Vermont Afterschool). They are designed to fund projects that help address the rights identified in the Youth Declaration of Rights, which was written by young people from across the state. The Council is made up of young people from all across the state and it strives to amplify youth voice through youth initiated projects that will benefit Vermont’s young people.

Here’s how it works:
1. Think of a project that connects to one of the youth rights
2. Fill out a simple application online
3. Have your idea voted on by other young people
4. Get the money and make your idea a reality!

Grant amounts can range from $100 to $3000 and any Vermont youth age 10 to 22 (unless still in school) can apply. The Youth4Youth grant application is open until February 10, 2019 after which time finalists will be voted on by young people from all across the state. Grant recipients will be announced in April with an award ceremony at the State House on April 12, 2019.

Same project ideas:
Teen center equipment or start-up
Duck farm
New couch for afterschool program
Catered food for a student-run event
New skate park
Student Olympic competition
Money to create a nature camp; or money to attend a nature camp
Registration fee for a dance competition
Musical instruments for youth band
Field trips relating to a club’s interests
New uniforms for team
Transportation funding

Questions?
Contact Vermont Afterschool’s Youth Voice Coordinator, Sam Graulty at sam@vermontafterschool.org. He can also work with you to set up a workshop in your community, school, or youth center to help you with the process. Download a Y4Y Grant flyer, spread the word, and encourage young people to apply!

Online application:
vermontafterschool.page.link/Y4Y

Call for Youth Art

Posted on January 11th, 2019 in: Blog

Do you have afterschool artists who would want to show their work at the State House? If so, we would love to display their work at an afterschool exhibition in the State House cafeteria for March 2019.

Who: Afterschool and out-of-school time artists of all ages (grades K-12) and abilities from Vermont
What: 2D and 3D art needed for display
Theme: Youth rights and youth expression in the “third space” (which is anytime when youth aren’t at home or at school)
When: Artwork must received by January 30, 2018 for display March 1-31, 2019 with a short submission form attached
Contact: email Alissa Faber for further information

Artwork can be photographs, drawings, paintings, collage, clay, sculpture, prints, masks, and digital creations. All ideas and expressions are welcome! We hope all artists and their families will be able to join us for a closing reception and ice cream social at the State House on the afternoon of March 28, 2019.

January’s Data Digest: Opioids

Posted on January 7th, 2019 in: Blog

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

Welcome to 2019! As we enter the new year, we are continuing to look at data from the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) which was completed by over 20,000 Vermont students in grades 9-12 back in the spring of 2017. The survey is administered to high school students around the state every two years, which means that in just a few months a whole new round of data will be collected. In the meantime, we still have plenty to explore from the 2017 data.

This month, we are thinking about the opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were 101 opioid-related deaths in Vermont in 2016. That is a rate of 18.4 deaths per 100,000 persons which was higher than the national average of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 that year. To help prevent tragic outcomes as a result of opioid dependency, Vermont Afterschool was recently awarded the Opioid Prevention Grant from the Vermont Department of Health. Through this initiative, we will work to help youth in Vermont meaningfully respond to the opioid crisis through increased afterschool programming, youth councils, and other youth engagement processes. We will also help strengthen Vermont’s ability to respond to the opioid crisis by empowering staff and practitioners working with children and youth in afterschool programs and other youth-serving organizations with awareness, skills, and resources for dealing with the crisis.

Youth need meaningful ways to build their voice, resiliency and community engagement. These skills will ultimately serve to help them decrease their risk of using and becoming addicted to substances. We have evidence from Iceland that helps support this idea. In the late 1990’s the Youth in Iceland initiative was established as a way to help youth engage in activities that would give them “natural highs” to prevent them from drinking and doing drugs. State funding for organized activities was increased and data has since been continually collected on an annual basis. Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of Icelandic teenagers who smoked, drank, and used other drugs has been plummeting as a direct result of this initiative.

We suspect that such strategies applied in Vermont could also serve to reduce the use of opioids among high school students here. The 2017 YRBS data points to more evidence to support this hypothesis. On the survey, 20,010 students answered questions about their afterschool participation and heroin use. Among students who didn’t participate in any hours of afterschool activities, 2.6% students reported using heroine at some point in their lives. This percentage dropped to 0.9%, 1.5%, and 0.7% respectively for students who reported participating in 1 to 4 hours, 5 to 9 hours, and 10 to 19 hours of afterschool activities per week. Vermont high school students who participated in afterschool activities (up to 19 hours per week) were much less likely to have ever used heroin than those who do not participate in any afterschool activities in 2017.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that according to polling data from 2002 to 2012, the incidence of heroin initiation was 19 times higher among those who reported prior nonmedical pain reliever use than among those who did not. Students also responded to questions related to taking prescription pain medications (such as codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, and Percocet) without a prescription at some point during their lives. There were 19,988 high school students that responded to both this item and our question about participation in afterschool activities. Among those who did not participate in any hours of afterschool, 11% responded that they have used prescription pain medication without a prescription. For students who participation in up to 19 hours per week of afterschool programming, between 5% to 6% of them had reported ever using prescription pain medications without a prescription. These data show that afterschool participation is correlated with a decreased likelihood that high school students in Vermont consume opioids in the form of non-prescription pain medications.

There was also an item on the YRBS that was not specific to opioid use, but was interesting in this case because of some potential overlap. The question asked students whether they had attended school under the influence of alcohol or other illegal drugs at least once in the 12 months leading up to the survey. Among students who did not participate in any amount of afterschool activities, 18.6% responded that they did attend school under the influence in the most recent year. Among students who participated in 1 to 4 hours of afterschool activities, 10.3% reported attending school under the influence; among students who participated in 5 to 9 hours of afterschool activities, 10.1% reported attending school under the influence; and among students who participated in 10 to 19 hours of afterschool activities, 8.3% reported attending school under the influence. These percentages show that afterschool participation is correlated with a reduced likelihood that high school students in Vermont will show up to school under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

These results from the YRBS show that the opioid crisis is not limited to adults. It is imperative that we create opportunities for youth so that they have meaningful ways to become empowered and engage in activities that do not include addictive substances. We are confident that we can help Vermont reduce tragic outcomes in the long term by focusing on providing enriching opportunities for our youth today.

Read past Data Digest blog posts here:

Free CCV Online Course for Spring 2019

Posted on January 4th, 2019 in: Blog

For the Spring Semester 2019, 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!

Afterschool Education & Development of the School-Age Child (EDU 2065): This course focuses on afterschool education related to the development of school age children. Emphasis is on exploring the interconnections between child/youth development, the transition to and participation in school, and growth within a community context. Topics include: developmental theories and research, observation and assessment tools, design of inclusive integrated curriculum, understanding school and community in the context of youth development, and transitions related to providing afterschool education.

Semester Dates: January 22 – April 30, 2019
Instructor: Gabrielle Lumbra
How to register: Email Tricia Pawlik-York for an application. *Note that you do NOT register  with CCV directly.*

Youth Voice: An “On Air” Need

Posted on January 2nd, 2019 in: Blog

By Sam Graulty, Youth Voice Coordinator

It was recently public radio fundraising time here in Vermont. I’m a big Vermont Public Radio fan and have been known to stay tuned through their repeated membership pitches. However, a few weeks ago, during one of these breaks, I slid the dial to another public radio station and was so happy I did. There, I caught a story from National Public Radio about Boyle Heights Beat, a “a bilingual community news project produced by youth, offering ‘noticias por y para la comunidad,’ or ‘news by and for the community.’”

This community newspaper (and podcast!) is entirely produced by young people. Its 33,000 copies are distributed quarterly to every member of the neighborhood of Los Angeles that is its focus. Not only do these dedicated high school-aged reporters tackle stories ranging from city council meetings to public health, they also amplify others’ voices in the community. This is done through regular meetings where anyone from the neighborhood can come and give feedback on stories they have written, as well as suggest areas for coverage in future editions. This strengthens the community’s social ties, plus it leads to better coverage. As founder Michelle Levander put it, “You know, people feel very hopeful about youth, and they are nicer to them. And they really came to trust them with their stories. And so it was just a very powerful way for these young people to give back to their community and the community to give to them.”

While we have ever expanding media choices, from a seemingly endless menu of viewpoints and leanings, the perspectives of young people are often sorely lacking. Recently, there has been some great coverage about young people by caring adults, and even the occasional powerful piece directly from a young person. As far as programs go, there have been good pushes in the past to capture and disseminate youth voice, such as Youth Radio Vermont, a program of the Vermont Folklife Center. And currently The Young Writers Project is doing some great work on creative writing with young people, by supporting them to take creative risks. However, these are the exceptions, not the norm. They oftentimes feel like only a small carve-out, an aside, from a communication landscape largely monopolized by adults.

Not only is it the comprehensive scope that impresses me so much about Boyle Heights Beat, it’s the dialog it creates. It puts youth right into the middle of the discussion. Not only are they a central part of the conversation they are the conveners of the conversation, and the custodians of what comes out of it. For youth voice to truly matter, it must be part of a culture shift where every member of the community can feel welcomed and engaged at the table of ideas. While some may fret about young people leaving Vermont, we need to pay attention to the ones who are here and trust young people with the responsibility of being full members of our community and the responsibility of telling its stories.

Youth want and need what we all want and need, and it’s pretty universal to want to be heard. While I’m still a realist, and know that by the time the next VPR membership drive rolls around, we’re not likely to have a fully youth-run radio station produced out of a local high school I can tune into. But I do hope that it’s not just through periodic happenstance that I hear young people with the opportunity to share their stories and those of their communities.

Note: Vermont Afterschool’s new Youth Voice Initiative is funded in part by the Vermont Community Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation, and the Vermont Department of Health. We will be featuring more youth storytellers, authors, artists, and activists in our monthly blog posts throughout 2019.

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