VT Vision for Youth Success report recommends ways to boost youth opportunity

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Council on Rural Development, along with an advisory group of youth leaders and adults that work with and support youth, are announcing the release of the “VT Vision for Youth Success” report today to showcase bright spots, challenges, and concrete action recommendations to advance opportunities for youth in Vermont communities: https://www.futureofvermont.org/youth-opportunity-initiative.

This report 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 voices. 

Input was captured through a series of youth-adult co-facilitated forums in every region of the state, stakeholder interviews, youth-led discussion around the state, and a statewide survey reaching every corner of Vermont. 

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.

The six focal areas of the report include:

  1. A High Quality, Flexible, Equitable, and Safe Education System
  2. Opportunities for Work and Life Experiences Within and Beyond the Classroom
  3. Vibrant, Supportive, and Resilient Communities
  4. Spaces and Activities Accessible and Welcoming to Youth and Families
  5. Outdoor Connection and Environmental Health
  6. 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.

“This report represents the collective vision and aspirations of Vermonters for our youth,” said Jenna Koloski, the Community Engagement and Policy Director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD). “It is a roadmap for creating a vibrant, inclusive, and supportive environment where every young person in Vermont can thrive. We look forward to working with partners, youth, and leaders in the months ahead to move these action recommendations forward.”

Background and Context

This 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 (found at www.futureofvermont.org) 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 criticals issue areas that speak to the challenges and opportunities facing our economy, our environment, our communities and our people.

The Future of Vermont Action Team (the Action Team) was the leadership team charged with developing and exploring the elements of the Vermont Proposition. In its first year, the Action Team identified elements of the Proposition that they felt most timely and pressing as a starting point for their work. Youth opportunity, success, and aspiration emerged as their top priority. 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. The Action Team set out to identify what action is needed in the short term to ensure youth opportunity and success in the long term. In order to determine critical action steps, they charged VCRD and an Advisory Group of youth and adult leaders to conduct a deep engagement process with people of all ages across the state. The process, facilitated by VCRD, gathered input from youth, community and municipal leaders, educators, business leaders, policy experts, and more. The result is 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.

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 us on June 11th on Zoom from 10:00-11:30 AM for an in-depth presentation of the report’s findings and recommendations and a panel discussion with youth and adult leaders. Details and registration at: https://www.vtrural.org/leadership-network/upcoming-workshops/.
  • 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: https://www.vtrural.org/summit/.
  • 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.

These events are designed to foster collaboration, inspire action, and ensure that the voices of Vermont’s youth are heard and valued.

To find the report, learn more, and stay up to date on progress of the “VT Vision for Youth Success” Report and next steps, visit https://www.futureofvermont.org/youth-opportunity-initiative.

VT Vision for Youth Success” Report

Vermont Council on Rural Development

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of the locally-defined progress of Vermont's rural communities. VCRD is a dynamic partnership of federal, state, local, nonprofit and private partners. Actively non-partisan with an established reputation for community-based facilitation, VCRD is uniquely positioned to sponsor and coordinate collaborative efforts across governmental and organizational categories concerned with policy questions of rural import. The organization has successfully completed 87 community visits, resulting in locally defined projects like new childcare centers, wastewater infrastructure, and downtown redevelopments.

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



To support great journalism, access our archives and get unique features like our award-winning profiles, Book of Lists & Business-to-Business Directory, subscribe HERE!