“Vermont Vision for Youth Success” is the culmination of a deep engagement process that included the voices and insights of over 600 Vermonters of all ages, including more than 200 youth. The report lays out a framework of policy and programming recommendations to achieve a future where our youth are more deeply connected to their communities and where they can aspire to engage, thrive, and lead in a multicultural democracy and marketplace. The report highlights success stories, identifies challenges, and sets forth actionable recommendations across six key areas to enhance the lives of young people in our state including:

  • A High Quality, Flexible, Equitable, and Safe Education System
  • Opportunities for Work and Life Experiences Within and Beyond the Classroom
  • Vibrant, Supportive, and Resilient Communities
  • Spaces and Activities Accessible and Welcoming to Youth and Families
  • Outdoor Connection and Environmental Health
  • Health and Well-being and Access to Support

Key cross-cutting recommendations emphasize the importance of the community schools model, improving transportation options, advancing meaningful youth leadership and voice, and addressing mental health challenges that many youth face today.

Background and Context

The report captures the findings and outcomes of the Youth Opportunity Initiative, an initiative of the Vermont Proposition and the Future of Vermont Action Team. The Proposition lays out a structured and non-partisan set of proposals, built on input from over 4,000 Vermonters, toward action for a thriving and prosperous future for Vermont. It identifies a list of critical issue areas that speak to the challenges and opportunities facing our economy, our environment, our communities and our people.

The Youth Opportunity Initiative (YOI) emerged through the Proposition effort and was identified by the Action Team as a transformational opportunity that will make an impact and lay a strong foundation for the implementation work of other Proposition areas ahead. The strength of our democracy, the vitality of our economy, and the emotional and physical well-being of our population start with our youth and a shared belief in a positive future. In order to build strong communities and realize our vision for a thriving economy, we must adequately prepare our youth with the tools, support, and connections they need to establish and then realize educational, career, and life goals and expectations; effectively engage in the economy of today and of the future; and seize opportunities here in Vermont and beyond. Youth who are connected to their community, can access equitable opportunities, and are equipped to participate in a multicultural democracy and economy are a critical foundation to the future vitality and well-being of Vermont.

In order to determine critical action steps, the Action Team charged the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) and an Advisory Group of youth and adult leaders to conduct a deep engagement process with people of all ages across the state to collect input and ideas for ensuring youth opportunity and success. The process, facilitated by VCRD throughout the course of 2023, gathered input from youth, community and municipal leaders, educators, business leaders, policy experts, and more through a series of youth-adult co-facilitated forums in every region of the state, youth-led discussions around the state, stakeholder interviews, and a statewide survey reaching every corner of Vermont.

Next Steps

To bring these recommendations to life, several upcoming events will engage community members and stakeholders in sharing findings and identifying next steps toward action:

  • Vermont Community Leadership Launch Webinar: Join a Zoom session on June 11th from 10-11:30am for an in-depth presentation of the report’s findings and recommendations and a panel discussion with youth and adult leaders. Click here for details and to register.
  • 2024 Vermont Community Leadership Summit: A track of workshops and panel discussions focused on youth engagement and leadership will be featured at our annual summit on August 6th at Vermont State University in Randolph. Registration is free for youth and students. Find out more here.
  • VT Youth Success Convening: In September, we will convene leaders, youth, and other stakeholders to build action plans to advance the recommendations in the report.

To learn more and stay up to date on progress and next steps of the Youth Opportunity Initiative, visit https://www.futureofvermont.org/youth-opportunity-initiative.

Members of the Youth Opportunity Advisory Group

  • John Castle, Executive Director, Vermont Rural Education Collaborative
  • Saraswoti Chhetri, Student, Burlington High School
  • Jess Decarolis, Division Director, Agency of Education
  • Sam Dingba, Case Manager, AALV
  • Emma Doucet, Student, Mt Abraham High School
  • Scott Farr, Superintendent, River Valley Tech Center
  • Carlen Finn, Senior Policy Associate, Voices for Vermont’s Children
  • Jeff Francis, Executive Director, Superintendents association
  • Ben Freeman, (former) Network Coordinator, Vermont Learning for the Future
  • Lindsey Halman, Executive Director, UP For Learning
  • Tara Howe, Transition Program Manager, HireAbility
  • Mea Ree Jan, Student, Winooski High School and Essex Tech
  • Joyce Judy, President, Community College of VT
  • PJ King, (former) Youth Program Specialist, UP For Learning
  • Breck Knauft, Executive Director, VT Youth Conservation Corps
  • Kayla Loving, Co-coordinator, Education Justice Coalition
  • Maddie McKinley, Student, Brattleboro Union High School
  • Lilian Sophie Meyer, Student, Main Street Middle School Montpelier
  • Nicole Miller, Executive Director, Vermont Afterschool
  • Dean Roy, Student, Stowe Middle School
  • Samantha Stevens, Community Schools Coordinator, North Country SU
  • Rebecca Tatistcheff, Principal, Cabot School
  • Shawn Tester, CEO, Northeastern VT Regional Hospital