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Boys & Girls Club wins grant

KAT NELSON

That field to the side that we’ve never used in the past will be maintained this year so that we have increased outdoor space.
— Kat Nelson

VERGENNES — The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes has received $22,987 from the Summer Matters for All Grant program to help fund its summer programming, club CEO Kat Nelson confirmed late last week.

The grant will help pay salaries for club staff who will run the seven weeks of free morning programs for younger youths with meals and oversee teen afternoon drop-in hours three days a week. It will also fund improvements to the club’s Armory Lane property to allow more outdoor activities, Nelson said.

She added that the grant also means the club can pay at least some teens who complete a leadership course she will offer in mid-July to help lead the remaining four weeks of youth programs.

It will also fully fund supplies for some of the youth programs, such as helping buy science kits, she said, and pay for the end-of-summer barbecue the club is planning for youths and their families.

The property improvement will consist of work to clean up an open area to the east of the property’s clubhouse and parking lot (toward Shaw’s Supermarket) and at least make it usable for limited recreation activities, such as water balloon tossing and similar lower-impact games.

Nelson said in the future the club hopes to level it further and remove rocks to make it suitable for activities such as soccer, but that this summer’s work would be a good start.

“That field to the side that we’ve never used in the past will be maintained this year so that we have increased outdoor space,” Nelson said. “This is sort of a trial run. Next year we’re going to try to roll the field, because it’s very bumpy and rocky.”

Nelson said to about 20 attendees a week at this point have signed up, but as of late last week there were still a few slots available for most programs. Those interested can check out the program sign-up at bgcvergennes.org or call 870-7199.

The club will be providing breakfast and lunch, early drop-off, and — now that the grant has been confirmed — transportation support for the morning programs. They will offer themes such as rocketry, athletics, STEM, arts and crafts, and woodworking. All will include field trips and visitor mentors. 

Nelson confirmed there remains room in the teen leadership course, which will run mornings from July 19 to 23.

The Summer Matters for All Grant Program is awarding up to $3.85 million to programs in 13 Vermont counties with the goal of expanding access to summer enrichment opportunities for K-12 youth this summer. The grants are funded by federal dollars secured by Sen. Bernie Sanders and are administered by Vermont Afterschool.

Nelson noted the process was competitive, with 188 proposals seeking about $7.4 million in grants. And, she said, not only does the funding “directly support the youth in our community in reconnecting and healing together,” but it will also help the club continue to fulfill its mission.

“It’s helping sustain us through a difficult year,” Nelson said.

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