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From Dancing to Driver’s Ed - Supporting Southshire Youth in 2022


images courtesy of Paran Recreations

Many youth across in Bennington County are showing great resilience in the face of major social and environmental challenges, though others struggle with poverty, trauma, mental health, and other challenges.

To support young people in Southern Vermont, strong nonprofits have stepped up with opportunities that give them voice, create safe spaces for connection, and provide skills and training are helping to guide them along their path. This past year:

  • A group of young people from low-income housing communities worked with Moose Jr., a Vermont-based jazz trio, to bring live music, hula hoops, and bubble machines to playgrounds and parking lots in their neighborhoods. Touring with the Vermont Arts Exchange, they brought music and performance to others while gaining production and leadership skills through creative expression.
  • Local middle and high school students participated in a program at the Berkshire Family YMCA in Bennington to earn American Red Cross CPR, lifeguard, babysitting, and first aid certificates–valuable, marketable, confidence-building life skills.
  • At Southwest Tech, five students completed Driver’s Ed last fall at no cost. With more students eligible for the required course than the high school can accommodate, young people either have to pay for a private course or delay getting their driver’s license–neither an attractive option for a young person in a rural area who needs a car to get to work or school.

$100,000 (almost!) in Grants to 23 Organizations

The Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth (OSFY) has made nearly $100,000 in grants ($98,090 to be exact) to 23 youth-oriented organizations in Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford since its inception in 2018.

From Queer Connect to the Governor’s Institute of Vermont, the organizations supported in 2022 all share a critical thread: They invite young people in the Bennington area to engage in their lives; to lead, create, and learn; and to empower each other. 

If you’ve ever been around a group of young people singing, dancing, laughing, blowing bubbles, and doing the hula, you know that joy is contagious. We know that each young person that leaves a program inspired, energized, and hopeful about their future will spread that optimism throughout our community, making it a better place for all of us.

See the full list of 2022 grantees.

Thank you for your support of and partnership with the Opportunity Fund for Southshire Youth!

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