BRATTLEBORO — More than $1 million is being provided to afterschool and summer programs in southern Vermont through the federally funded Expanding Access Grant program.
The grants, funded by dollars guaranteed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and coordinated with Vermont Afterschool, Governor Phil Scott’s office and the Vermont Agency for Education, were awarded to a variety of programs, including summer camps, libraries, municipalities, teen centers, non-profit social service organizations and more, to increase the number of weeks and slots, as well as to increase affordability and l accessibility of summer and after-school programs.
In Windham County, Beaver Brook Children’s School in Wilmington will receive $198,000, Brattleboro Youth Services will receive $197,000 and the Boys and Girls Club of Brattleboro will receive $100,000.
“Our funds will be used to run a free, high-quality summer program for Vermont residents in July and August 2022 and 2023 at the Old School Community Center, and to expand after-school programs for young children at Twin Valley Elementary and Halifax. in partnership with Wings Community Programs during the 2022-2023 school year,” said Julie Koehler, President of Beaver Brook. “These funds were essential to our mission to provide affordable, accessible, high-quality programs for young children in southern Vermont.”
Koehler, who said Beaver Brook was founded in 2021, said its programs are also funded by other government and nonprofit grants as well as private donations.
In Bennington County, the Bennington Intergenerational Arts & Wellness Camps & Afterschool Collaborative will receive $199,054.
At Patch of Diamonds in Dummerston, which received $25,000, co-founder Hildreth Grace Rinehart said the grant will help support a low-cost summer riding camp, Project Peace, for young people aged 7 to 14. .
Summer camp time includes field partnership training with a herd of three horses, team building activities, rhythm and drama games, music, art, and early learning. a peaceful garden for children, she said.
“Our mission at the Patch of Diamonds is to promote wellness in the world for the present and the future, through collaboration with like-minded people in the research and development of natural education, ecologies well-being and natural horsemanship Sharing the skills of peaceful partnership with horses and creating a peaceful garden for children, as well as a strong artistic component and whole-person learning are fun ways to find deeper peace and understanding of how we engage with ourselves, each other, and the environment.
Prior to receiving the grant, Rinehart said, a Patch of Diamonds was primarily volunteer-based.
“Now we can add more quality staff to help take our programs to the next level and make more camp weeks available this summer and next. Through grants, we can also provide incentives to local youth who can thrive in mentorship and leadership roles if given the right opportunities. »
Other recipients include the Rockingham Free Public Library at $26,700; the Root Social Justice Center in Brattleboro at $50,000; the Natural History Museum of Southern Vermont in Marlboro at $52,000; the Vermont Wilderness School in Brattleboro at $86,000; and the Wilmington Recreation Commission at $95,000.
A total of $4.23 million was awarded to 39 programs in 11 Vermont counties.
Building on the success of the 2021 Summer Matters Grants initiative and Vermont’s progress in providing universal after-school and summer programs, Expanded Access Grants are expected to continue to close the gaps in Vermont’s current summer and after-school system by addressing affordability, increasing availability, creating lasting partnerships to promote sustainability, and piloting innovative approaches, says a press release announcing the awards.