LIGHTS ON AFTERSCHOOL
Lights On Afterschool
By Holly Morehouse, executive director at Vermont Afterschool, Inc.
We started out the 2017-2018 Vermont Legislative Session with three clear goals in advocating for expanded learning opportunities:
During the past year we have seen many incremental successes but ultimately did not secure additional funding or formalize a decision-making structure to distribute future funds. Despite falling short of the ultimate goals, the work over the last year has built a network of legislative champions, increased awareness of the importance of Expanded Learning Opportunity funding, helped with the creation of a Vermont Youth Bill of Rights, and supported the creation of the VT9to26 Coalition. Here’s how it happened.
Developing afterschool champions
One of the most important legislative achievements this year is the number of legislators who now self-identify as champions for Expanded Learning Opportunity and afterschool. Whether converting skeptics to supporters or supporters to champions, a number of state legislators took it upon themselves to push for our priorities and are approaching 2018 with a greater appreciation for afterschool. Furthermore, the Senate Health and Welfare committee was so impressed with Vermont Afterschool’s testimony on prevention that they named afterschool and mentoring programs as the first thing Vermont should fund with an opioid tax.
Getting the right language in the right bills
The Expanded Learning Opportunity Working Group and accompanying funding may not have ultimately passed during the legislative session, but they both came very close. Despite opposition from the administration, the Expanded Learning Opportunity Working Group language eventually moved into the Miscellaneous Education bill after the House Education committee chose to support it. Even though the House and Senate conferees agreed to the Expanded Learning Opportunity language, last-minute issues in other parts of the bill stopped passage before adjournment, and we continued to work on this during the Special Session. Similarly, legislation in a miscellaneous revenue bill included funds for opioid prevention that would have gone to afterschool programs, and while the bill was reintroduced during the Special Session, it also failed to make it through the process before adjournment.
While the legislature did not include a specific appropriation for the Expanded Learning Opportunity Special Fund in this year’s budget, they did create other possible opportunities to find funding in the coming year. The budget approved by the legislature includes $2.5 million to be used for substance use disorder prevention efforts, and the Secretary of Human Services is charged with determining how to spend these funds. We are already working with the Department of Health to move this conversation forward.
Plugging into efforts to raise youth voice around substance use
We're now working with the Department of Health around a state plan for some of the money set aside by the legislature that we hope could go into the Expanded Learning Opportunity Fund.
The Department of Health has stepped forward as a new partner for the network in other ways, as well. Recognizing youth voice as an essential piece of substance use prevention, they are giving Vermont Afterschool, Inc. a grant of approximately $105,000 to support the work, about $70,000 of which will come from opioid crisis funds. The money will fund a youth voice coordinator at the network and support a Finnish-style participatory budgeting process: our youth council will collect proposals statewide from youth for projects that would increase opportunities for youth to: belong, get good at something, make decisions, and give back. Sounds like afterschool, doesn't it?
It's all about youth agency. Youth across Vermont will be invited to vote on the ideas they think will have the greatest impact, and the youth council will have $20,000 to allocate towards the selected proposals.
While we faced some disappointments and near-misses in this session, we also see new opportunities on the horizon and will continue to push for initiatives that help serve Vermont youth!
By Patricia Patrick and Sarah Sliwa of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Whether working to curb infectious disease, support emergency preparedness, or promote healthier...
For Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, we asked a number of alumni of our Afterschool Ambassador program to reflect on how their experience as Ambassadors shaped their work and careers....
One of the many joys associated with the Afterschool for All Challenge last week was seeing so many of our Afterschool Ambassadors in person. For nearly 20 years, the Afterschool Ambassador program...
We’re just two days away from the Afterschool for All Challenge! Brave kids from across the nation, including our inaugural class of Youth Afterschool Ambassadors, are heading to D.C. to take...
By Danielle Grondin, VISTA Leader
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released a report on the findings from exploratory projects in Arkansas and Mississippi that looked at the...
Today we are sharing a number of resources for youth workers and out-of-school time programs to support racial equity, build cultural competence, and assess and address bias. Several of these resources also include practical tips and tools for involving youth in social justice. We will publish a...
BY: Ursula Helminski 06/05/20
Thank you to all of you youth development professionals who are helping young people share, heal, and act. Talking with youth about the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, racial justice, antiracism, and the violence around us is so important.
We’ve seen a number of new tools...
BY: Ursula Helminski 06/04/20
Hello everyone! My name is Erin Hegarty and I am the new Special Assistant to the Executive Director. I just graduated from the College of William & Mary and am ecstatic to join the Afterschool Alliance team. While at William & Mary, I majored in American Studies and minored...
BY: Erin Hegarty 08/31/18
Hello! I’m Chris Neitzey, the new Director of STEM Initiatives at the Afterschool Alliance. Some of you may already be familiar with me from my time with the New York State Network for Youth Success, the statewide afterschool network for New York, where I served most recently as the Policy...
BY: Chris Neitzey 08/28/18
On May 28, the Afterschool Alliance hosted our first-ever National Town Hall, culminating a week of activity focused on celebrating programs’ efforts to support youth and families, and the critical role of afterschool and summer programs for recovery. We were proud to partner with leaders...
BY: Jodi Grant 06/01/20
It’s nearly May and according to Education Week’s most recent counts, 39 states or territories and D.C. have ordered their schools remain physically closed for the rest of the academic year. Of course, that doesn’t mean students stop learning. They never do.
BY: Jillian Luchner 04/30/20
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that many, many people - including afterschool providers - are facing unprecedented challenges and questions about how to navigate this moment, while at the same time continuing to serve our communities to the best of their abilities and care for...
BY: Chandler Hall 04/06/20
On Monday, March 11, the administration called for eliminating all funding for afterschool and summer programs in the 2020 budget. The afterschool field didn’t miss a beat, springing into action to save the programs that 1.7 million kids and their families rely on. Thousands of afterschool...
BY: Ursula Helminski 03/14/19