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VT9to26 Coalition

Lifelong success for young people demands cooperation and collaboration between all those who care for and about them. And while access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs will not solve all our problems, we will not be able to make meaningful progress on some of our most critical issues affecting Vermont kids and families–most especially those living in poverty, impacted by addiction, and/or affected by other adverse family experiences–without adequately addressing what is happening with our children and youth outside the school day and over the summer.


In order to strengthen the policies, programs and services with and for all young people in Vermont, we are launching the VT9to26 Coalition for Youth Work and Policy.

The VT9to26 Coalition is an action-oriented coalition of youth and adults working in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for all youth in Vermont. It takes collaborative action to ensure that all young people ages 9-26 are safe, healthy, supported, educated, and engaged. Drawing inspiration from the Vermont Youth Declaration of Rights, this group is committed to helping youth find what they need to be the best versions of themselves.

Our mission:

As a coalition, we support partners of youth in strengthening opportunities, programs, and support in the third space that recognize the rights of youth and increase positive youth outcomes.

  • We can work with youth to provide many opportunities for young people to be young and to grow into healthy and happy Vermonters.

WHY 9-26?

Being a tween, teen, and young adult is a special time of life that deserves our celebration and recognition. Young people deserve to be seen, heard, and valued. We need to focus our attention on older youth for a number of reasons:

  • Our Collective Well-Being. Given Vermont is such a small state, every young person matters to our present and future.
  • Critical Need for Support. Youth and families experiencing homelessness is on an upward trend. The number of child victims of abuse and neglect is rising as is the number of child and youth in foster care. According to the Vermont Youth Behavior Risk Survey (2015), the risk of youth suicide among middle and high school students is growing. In particular, young women, LGB, and racial minority students are significantly more likely to have attempted suicide or self harm.4,5,6
  • The Third Space for Learning. What young people are doing outside of the home and school matters. This is called “the third space,” and is an area of particular focus for the coalition. Our goal is to spotlight all the other places where youth are rockin’ and rollin’ in the world, as well as what we can do to make sure all youth have equal opportunities for enrichment, engagement, and friendship during the out-of-school time hours.
  • Brain Development. During this phase of life in teens and early 20s, the brain is developing at a rapid rate. Understanding the brain science helps us see how complex and special this time of life is, and why it matters to provide support when risky behaviors and mental illness can peak.
  • Return on Investment. For every dollar spent on quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont gets back $2.18 in long-term savings from reduced criminal activity and substance abuse treatment, as well as accruing additional benefits from increased high school completion and work productivity.7


Downloadable version is here.

We make Vermonters here.

  • If you grow up in Vermont, you can be ready for anything.
  • Our young people will make Vermont better if we listen to and respect their voices.
  • We have a collective responsibility to ensure that all young Vermonters are safe, healthy, supported, educated, and engaged.

Young people make a better Vermont.

  • We value youth as they are. Just by being young people living here, they enrich our community.
  • We can celebrate our young people being young and recognize the value of youth in our community.
  • Young people are problem-solvers who are eager to be engaged.

Youth want and need what we all want and need.

  • Vermont youth know what they need. We should listen to them and work with them to provide real opportunities for them to lead.
    • We have the Youth Declaration of Rights as a starting point. Vermont youth have told us what they need in this document.
  • Young and old alike want to be successful and want and need to be loved and appreciated for who they are.
  • Young and old alike need community connection, opportunities to learn, and access to recreation and other activities.
  • Vermont youth have a right to explore interests, connect with each other and build skills, and these opportunities should exist throughout our community.

The “third space” is where we all live, work and play.

  • The third space for youth is everywhere that is not home and not school.
  • Young people spend lots of time outside of their homes and outside of school. This “third space” is an important place for them to get what they need as they grow up.
  • As we go about our lives, we can welcome youth as part of our communities and provide opportunities for them to learn new skills and to have opportunities to play, relax and be young.

We can work with youth to provide many opportunities for young people to be young and to grow into healthy and happy Vermonters.


  • Youth Rights Summit participants sign a document recognizing their work in drafting a Youth Declaration of Rights on October 20, 2017.

    The Youth Rights Summit that we hosted in October 2017 brought together 38 youth ages 9-22 from across Vermont to draft a Vermont Youth Declaration of Rights. We also invite youth ambassadors to attend our Afterschool & Summer Learning Day each year. Check out last year’s video of youth ambassadors sharing their thoughts on why afterschool matters to them.

  • The question that framed the Youth Rights Summit was: What do you, as a young person in Vermont, need in order to be the best version of yourself? In response, the youth developed the framework for the rights, that categories, and all the wording. The only changes we made in the final document was to format it and to fix a few small spelling errors.
  • We presented the Youth Declaration of Rights to the Vermont Child Poverty Council on November 16, 2017. The Declaration was also shared with partners at the Youth Work and Policy Partner meeting on December 5th and the Vermont Principals’ Association is planning to send the document to all public school principals in Vermont.


We look forward to working together to change the conversation around youth in Vermont and to do so in a way that brings forward youth voice and youth rights.

Do you believe young people make a better Vermont?

If so, join us! Any interested people or organizations can email Holly for further information as well as to RVSP for meetings. All are welcome including youth and young adults.

Summer 2019 Meeting Date (located at the Vermont Historical Society in Barre unless noted otherwise):

August 14 || 10am-12pm
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