The Vermont Community Foundation announced that it has entered into a Cornerstone Partnership with Vermont Afterschool, a statewide nonprofit working to ensure that all Vermont youth have access to high quality out-of-school learning opportunities. As part of that partnership, the Community Foundation is awarding Vermont Afterschool a three-year $180,000 grant to strengthen afterschool and out-of-school time programming for older youth in Vermont.
The Community Foundation’s Cornerstone Partnerships are designed to help launch growth-phase statewide organizations whose work is critical to closing the opportunity gap to their next stage of development. The partnerships include multi-year grant funding and an invitation to inform the Foundation’s local grantmaking and community investment strategies.
“Over the last five years, Vermont has seen a steady decrease in the number of afterschool programs serving middle and high school youth,” stated Vermont Afterschool Executive Holly Morehouse. “We see a real need in the field and a partnership like this will help us to make significant gains on key state-level systems building work that we would not be able to do otherwise.”
Through the partnership, Vermont Afterschool will:
• expand and energize the out-of-school learning field,
• re-define quality standards for programs serving older youth, and
• work across the state to establish and sustain quality out-of-school time programs in some of our most persistently challenged communities.
This work is all about supporting broad cultural change in Vermont around how we think about youth, how we recognize and value this important time in a young person’s life, and the value we place on providing opportunities and supports for youth outside of the school day.
This grant and partnership are part of the Vermont Community Foundation’s commitment to closing the opportunity gap for children from low-income families. The Community Foundation believes that if Vermont doesn’t act now to equalize opportunity for children and families, we risk permanently destabilizing communities and diminishing the prospects for all.
The Vermont Community Foundation has prioritized afterschool, summer, and out-of-school learning as one of several issues most critically affecting the opportunity gap. It is also an area where philanthropy is particularly well-positioned to make progress at both a systems level and at the local level.
Research shows that students participating in afterschool programs, especially students who participate regularly, see gains in their math achievement and academic performance, improve their work habits, and have better school day attendance. Additionally, afterschool programs introduce youth to new activities, offer healthy snacks and meals, and are safe places to hang out with friends.
“Holly and her team share our vision for a more equitable and student-centered afterschool system in Vermont,” says Vermont Community Foundation CEO Dan Smith. “We choose Cornerstone Partners deliberately, in a way that brings organizations together instead of increasing competition for resources. Vermont Afterschool’s collaborative approach and deep expertise make them a natural partner for us in this work now and in the years ahead.”