In October 2017, close to 40 young people ages 9 to 22 came together to collaboratively draft a Vermont Youth Declaration of Rights. Using only their own ideas and words, they outlined nine focus areas that covered subjects and needs they cared about. They came together from all over Vermont to express their ideas and help broaden the conversation around policy decisions that affect youth. The document was recognized by the legislature, but its ambitions were not being supported enough on the ground.
That was the inspiration for the Vermont Youth4Youth (Y4Y) Grants. The Y4Y program is a mini-grant competition designed by and for Vermont’s youth. Created by a statewide youth council, the grant application opened in Spring 2019 to any Vermonter ages 9-22. The ideas came flooding in; with 44 proposals submitted that all focused on furthering youth rights. From there, young people from every VT county voted to select 14 projects that would receive over $20,000 in total funding.
2019 Youth4Youth Grant Awardees
|$100-$1500 Projects||$1500-$3000 Projects|
|Burke Town School Bike Trails | Burke |
Build bike trials on the school’s campus to provide recreational access for all students.
|Mi Vida, Mi Voz: A Writing Workshop | Shelburne |
A weekend writing workshop for migrant youth to explore their voice and connect with others.
|Cultural Diversity Day | East Montpelier |
Spread cultural awareness to the school and greater community through a day of activities.
|STEAMing All the Way to California | Rutland |
Travel to a national Lego robotics competition to compete against and meet other teams from all over the world.
|Dog-A-Thon | Shelburne |
A running race and dog adoption event to raise money for the Humane Society.
|Summer Bowling | Springfield |
Create weekly bowling clubs for grades K-12 during youth-led summer programming.
|Never Have I Ever | Springfield |
Provide funding for foster families to be able to access fun community resources and experiences.
|Rabbit Adoption and Drop Off Agency | Shelburne |
Create a place where people can foster and adopt rabbits.
|Reducing Hunger in Our Community | Burke|
Working with existing community partners to make and donate meals to those in need.
|The Winooski Hang-Out: A Place for Everyone After School | Winooski|
Provide middle and high school youth a flexible, safe and supportive space to hang out after school.
|Ski Trip | Burlington|
A trip to Cochran’s ski area for DREAM program mentees.
|VTeen 4-H Science Pathways Cafe / Summer of Science | Royalton|
Provide science education programs both for and run by youth in their communities.
|Vermont Youth Voices Rally | Waterbury|
Sustainability awareness and advocacy event with informational booths and activities.
|Winooski School Band Private Lesson | Winooski|
Provide private lessons for members of the school band from professional musicians.
This year, the Y4Y grants are distributed across seven local youth councils associated with afterschool, youth center, and other “third space” programs. Each youth council received $3,000 to run a local Youth4Youth grant program that they design and oversee. 2019-2020 Y4Y sites are located in Springfield, Bennington, White River Junction, Enosburgh, Morrisville, Northfield, and St. Johnsbury.
The programs and youth councils are receiving training and coaching from Vermont Afterschool to support them through the steps of forming as a youth council and running a participatory budgeting process.
So what exactly is participatory budgeting?
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a budget. It gives people real power over real money. 2020 Y4Y programs learned about PB during a day-long training with experts visiting from Helsinki, Finland, including the head of the city’s youth council.