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.

Youth4Youth 2020

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.

The 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.