HCRS receives 2021 Summer Matters for All grant

SPRINGFIELD, Vt.Health Care and Rehabilitation Services, southeastern Vermont’s nonprofit community mental health and developmental disability services agency, was recently selected to receive $63,945 in funding from the Summer Matters for All grant program. According to Gov. Phil Scott, the Summer Matters for All grant program will award up to $3.85 million to programs in 13 counties of Vermont, with the goal of expanding access to summer enrichment opportunities for K-12 youth this summer.

This grant money will support HCRS’ summer therapeutic programming for youth currently engaged in services at HCRS, ages 8-16, who may have no other access to summer recreational programs. Division Director Jennifer Smith, LICSW states, “This funding allows us to provide a truly therapeutic and rich summer experience for the youth we serve. Having the ability to provide meaningful day trips, visiting parks and pools, and purchasing supplies and equipment will allow youth to truly engage in fun, therapeutic activities. This is such a great gift!”

Gov. Scott has put an emphasis on helping Vermont kids recover from the pandemic and the isolation it caused, including creating opportunities for them to safely reconnect with their peers and communities. The purpose of the grant program is to increase access to summer enrichment opportunities for K-12 youth statewide this summer. This was a highly competitive process with 188 proposals submitted totaling more than $7.4 million in requests, far exceeding available funds.

The grants, funded by federal dollars secured by Sen. Bernie Sanders and administered by Vermont Afterschool, were awarded to a variety of programs, including summer camps, libraries, municipalities, teen centers, nonprofit social service organizations, and more. The goal of the funding is to expand the number of weeks and available slots, as well as to increase affordability and accessibility of summer programs. These offerings will supplement school-based programs, as districts in Vermont received separate federal funds to support summer learning and afterschool programs.

“Summer is the perfect opportunity to help kids reconnect and recharge. We are incredibly grateful to our state leaders and policymakers for their commitment to the development of the Summer Matters for All grant program,” stated Holly Morehouse, executive director of Vermont Afterschool, within the grant materials. “With this funding, communities and youth-serving organizations across the state will be able to create a great summer for Vermont children and youth that will help them make new memories and emerge from the pandemic strong, resilient, and hopeful.”

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