Ten years. How amazing is that? Especially when you consider all the incredible people, programs, and partners that we’ve been privileged to work with over that time.
There are things that have changed: Our name, our look, our size, and our scope. We’ve experienced tremendous growth over the past 10 years both as an organization as a field. And yet many things that have stayed the same, including a number of our key partners, staff, and board members who have been with us through the years.
Where we’ve grown over the years:
- Holding a strong presence at the State House, with advocacy, and in state policy meetings.
- Building broad coalitions and doing in-depth community-based work in order to make Vermont the best place to grow up.
- Making sure that our efforts address the full continuum of positive development from children as early as five years old to youth in their teenage years and up through young adults in their mid-twenties.
- Deepening our roots and expanding our reputation as a reliable source of data and information on the field and on children/youth in VT.
- Amplifying youth voice and leading on conversations around authentic youth engagement.
- Expanding our knowledge and understanding by reaching out and making connections with new colleagues in Iceland, Finland, and beyond.
- Reaching programs across the state with a variety of professional development models, including communities of practice, coaching strands, etc.
- Connecting with partners like restorative justice, mental health professionals, work-based learning, foster parents, pediatricians, and others.
What’s remained consistent:
- Creating high-quality, meaningful opportunities for young people to express themselves through art, music, theater, writing, dance, making, experimenting, and more.
- Working closely with program leaders and staff, understanding their challenges, staying in close touch with their development, growth, needs, knowledge, and input.
- Holding a statewide conference that brings in top-level keynote speakers, energizes the field, and offers workshops for sharing and networking.
- Putting forth a vision for the field that unifies all those working with children and youth in the third space whether it be in a licensed childcare program, a summer camp, a town rec center, a school-run afterschool program, a community-based organization, or a teen center.
- Valuing deep, meaningful, and mutually beneficial partnerships; whether through our previous Partner Advisory Council, specific partnership initiatives, or the VT9to26 Coalition, there is nothing that we do in isolation.
- Knowing that we are made so much stronger, wiser, and effective through our connections with partners, programs, and providers in the field.
Our growth has not been about changing or expanding our vision and mission, but rather each year taking concrete steps that have brought us closer and closer to being rightsized to do the work that really needs to be done. We still dream of opportunities that reach every child and every youth, every day, in every community. Thank you for sharing that vision and working with us to make it a reality.
[This was written originally as the opening letter to our FY19 Annual Report but it was edited down to a much shorter version for the published report.]