STEM

Afterschool and third space programs are a prime space for youth to learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Afterschool STEM programs spark interest by engaging students in hands-on experiences and help them build workforce skills such as collaboration, and foster new ways of thinking such as engineering mindset. Afterschool STEM programs also boost students’ proficiency in math and science, increase their likelihood of graduation, and put them on the path to pursuing a career in the STEM fields.

One way Vermont Afterschool is helping promote these skills in the third space is through the Linking Engineering to Life curriculum. Thanks to the support of STEM Next, Vermont Afterschool has developed this program aimed specifically at girls and non-binary youth who have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields as part of the Million Girls Moonshot initiative.

Linking Engineering to Life (LEL) works to eliminate barriers of participation by recruiting diverse youth and training afterschool program leaders on how best to include youth from a spectrum of economic, geographic, racial and gender identities. Middle school girls & non-binary students have access to an exciting hands-on curriculum, including all materials and activities, as well as college-aged mentors who are currently studying a STEM topic. The program is being offered during the 2020-2021 school-year with 13 afterschool LEL clubs (in-person or virtual) that will be running across Vermont. 


VERMONEY

Vermont Afterschool, in collaboration with the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office, is pleased to offer VerMoney Financial Literacy Grants for Spring 2021. These mini-grants are offered to support afterschool programs in providing programming that will enable young Vermonters and their families to become more financially literate. VerMoney is a hands-on, active learning afterschool curriculum that teaches key concepts of financial literacy to children in grades 2-5.

To learn more about VerMoney and the grant application, click here.


FINANCIAL LITERACY PACESETTER

Vermont Afterschool’s Financial Literacy Pacesetter Program is our first “digital badge” for programs: a public acknowledgment earned by third space programs that have shown exemplary practices. Similar to how digital badges for individuals show these practices by staff, the Pacesetter recognition would recognize the work programs are doing as a whole. Based on specific, measurable benchmarks, the badge would be assessed annually and renewed every year. There is an array of components (some optional and some required) that make up the backbone of the program.

As a Financial Literacy Pacesetter program you will receive:
  • Public recognition from Vermont Afterschool: in the form of a press release, listing on our website, and the ability to promote your program as a Pacesetter using the official Pacesetter Badge. 
  • Ongoing, individualized coaching around how to best integrate financial literacy into your programming and meet your goals.
  • Access to free trainings designed to strengthen your program’s financial literacy offerings. 
  • Access to tools and resources to support your staff.
  • Support in engaging with community partners and families around financial literacy.
  • A $200 stipend for staff training and program support (available for up to 20 programs).
Required for Pacesetter Participation:

Pacesetter programs will have two years to complete all requirements toward the digital badge. After one year, there will be a progress report due and after two years, a final report.

  1. Running the VerMoney Financial Literacy curriculum (see above), our curriculum designed specifically for afterschool and third space programs.
  2. Joining a bi-monthly, 1-hour call with other pacesetter programs to network, share resources, and discuss best practices.
Additional Pasesetter Components:

Programs will choose THREE out of the following six components.

CurriculumStaffingCommunity
1. At least two staff members attend a workshop on infusing financial literacy throughout your programming and report on its influence.3. Use provided tools to educate your early career staff (i.e. teens and college students) in financial and career planning. 5. Engage your program’s families around financial literacy with our support. 
2. Present a short-term financial literacy curriculum or offering. 4. Provide staff access to financial education trainings on topics that could include: retirement, budgeting, home ownership, investing and more.6. Build a partnership with a local bank from a list of institutions willing and able to work with you.
Vermont Afterschool, in consultation with the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office, will develop and deliver a 90-minute training for direct-service staff that will cover how they can infuse more financial literacy content into programming. It will focus on creating easy “teachable moments” in which staff can introduce or reinforce concepts around financial literacy within the context of existing programming not immediately related to financial education. This training will be offered at least once in the spring and once in the fall. Alternatively, programs can have at least two staff members complete the You for Youth Financial Literacy Introduction and Implementation Strategy courses. After two staff members have completed either of the training options, the program will track and submit a simple report on how they have utilized the strategies from the training across their programming.
In consultation with Vermont Afterschool, programs will offer a shorter-term financial literacy curriculum or program offering. It does not need to be as extensive as VerMoney but still should have participation and engagement from program participants/students. Programs can choose their own offering, but ideas include:
• A savings challenge
An entrepreneurship club
•A financial literacy week with games, crafts, or mini-lessons
Programs will work with Vermont Afterschool to decide on what the offering is, and must get approval before perusing on offering to meet this component.
Programs that hire early career staff (high school or college students) will utilize tools that support the financial and career planning skills of this population. This can be done through individualized supervision, staff training, making tools available to staff, or some combination thereof. Prior approval from Vermont Afterschool must be obtained before finalizing what resources will be used to meet this component. Possible resources include:
• Vermont Afterschool’s Youth Workforce Development Guidebook
• The You for Youth Financial Literacy online course
• Khan Academy Personal Finance
• Smart About Finance Employment Basics Course
Programs will work with Vermont Afterschool to decide on what the offering(s) is/are, and must get approval before perusing on offering to meet this component.
Vermont Afterschool will consult with programs that choose this component to decide what aspects of financial education could best support your staff. We will then consult with the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office to organize a training or other resource, or support that would best fit that topic. Topics include those covered by the National Association of State Treasurers’ Financial Wellness and Support Program. Programs will be required to show both how many staff were impacted and how staff were impacted.
Programs will engage with parents, guardians and/or families to spread financial literacy lessons beyond the program’s hours. The form that this takes can differ site to site, but some possible ways to work with families include:
• Council for Economic Education Family-at-Home Financial Fun Pack
• The Vermont State Treasurer’s Office How to Raise a Money Smart Child
• Partner with VHEIP to provide a virtual training on 529 College Savings plans
Programs must get prior approval for their specific offering from Vermont Afterschool.
Programs choosing to partner with a local bank will be able to work with Vermont Afterschool to see which branches in their area have expressed interest in partnering with programs. With help from the Vermont Bankers Association and the Vermont STate Treasurer’s Office, we have been able to get preliminary interest and buy-in from many regional banks with locations all over the state. They have ideas for how this partnership could happen, but programs are certainly encouraged to contribute.

In order to give some examples of what programs can do and how much flexibility there is within the program, here are three hypothetical programs and their different journeys:

Program One is a small, single-site elementary school program in rural southern Vermont. They had participated in the VerMoney curriculum for years and wanted to take the next step in expanding their financial literacy offerings. They chose to focus mainly on curriculum. They chose components 1, 2 and 5. 

  • Component 1. They chose to have the staff member who has been teaching VerMoney and a younger staff member both attend the workshop of integrating financial literacy throughout their programming.
  • Component 2. They decided to hold a “Financial Literacy Week” in September where the entire program will partake in a “savings challenge.”
  • Component 5. As a part of “Financial Literacy Week” as well as during VerMoney, the program sent home expanded activities from the Money Smart Child curriculum

Program Two is a large, multi-site program that has offered VerMoney at three of its sites for the past two years. All three will again be running VerMoney this year, but the site director at one is very motivated to expand their financial literacy offerings. They decide to focus on staffing, especially because they have recently expanded their staff with the hiring of some high school-aged staff. They chose components 1, 3, and 4.

  • Component 1. The staff who attended the training were the VerMoney staff leader as well as a new, younger hire. It was a good move for the more experienced leader to build upon their financial literacy knowledge and also was an opportunity to provide some useful, free training for their newer hire. 
  • Component 3. With the new, high school-aged hires, they could use some support on how to manage their finances, especially those around budgeting and savings. These staff were able to attend a training with Vermont Afterschool that covered these topic areas, and they also received take-home materials that supervisors could cover and reinforce. 
  • Component 4. The program is able to support their staff effectively, but is always looking for more benefits, so this component fit. They were able to offer and enroll some of their staff into a short workshop on saving for retirement offered by the State Treasurer’s office.

Program Three is a larger program based in a city. They have never participated in VerMoney, but decided to fully take the plunge into financial literacy: signing up to be a Pacesetter and new VerMoney site in year one. They chose not to have a particular focus and chose a component from each category: 1, 4 and 6.

  • Component 1. Because the staff member leading VerMoney was new to financial literacy, the site leader decided to have them and another staff who sometimes supports them attend the infusing Financial Literacy training. This will help them gain more confidence in teaching the content both in and outside of VerMoney.
  • Component 4. Being in a place where cost of living can be high can make it hard to recruit and retain staff. By offering an added benefit for staff helps bring on and keep qualified staff. 
  • Component 6. There are many different possibilities for partnership in their area and this program found a willing bank to work with from a group that had been pre-screened by Vermont Afterschool and the State Treasurer’s Office. They decided to do a three-part partnership where a member of the bank’s staff came and did a presentation, the program made a field trip to the bank, and the bank offered help to participants and their families in setting up savings accounts.