Janice Burrows

Janice Burrows stands in front of the entrance to the Milton Elementary School cafeteria, where MASK is held, in 2020. She has been director of the child care service since 2018. 

MILTON — The Milton Family Community Center’s MASK program was recently selected to receive $74,999.90 in funding from the Summer Matters for All Grant program.

According to Gov. Phil Scott, the Summer Matters for All Grant Program is awarding $3.85 million to programs in 13 counties with the goal of expanding access to summer enrichment opportunities for K-12 youth this summer.

The Milton After School Kids program (MASK), located at the Milton Elementary and Middle School, will provide a summer program project called "The Kid’s and Kaboodle – STEAMing Through Summer." The purpose of this project is to provide affordable school-age child care and hands-on enrichment programming for children with varying needs and abilities.

The grant funding will help families by making the program more accessible, lowering the cost of child care for the summer. The grant funds will help provide much needed enrichment materials and staff professional development.

It will also help us to integrate a more intensive STEM/STEAM program and activities, allowing children to explore, be creative and imaginative and go beyond the point of just having fun.

"This grant is a win-win for the parents, children and staff," Janice Burrows, child care programs administrator and afterschool program administrator, stated.

MASK's goal is to combat the learning loss created by the COVID-19 pandemic and to combat the summer slide. The program also seeks to help children and youth re-engage, connect, learn and heal, as they emerge from the pandemic.

MASK offers programming that includes STEAM, math, literacy, SEL and physical activities led by experienced staff, instructors and teachers.

“We are so excited to be awarded a Summer Matters for All Grant," Burrows stated. "This is extremely helpful to our families. It allows us to lower the cost of our summer program tuition to our existing and new families. We can acquire kits for a robust STEM/STEAM program. Staff will be able to engage in professional development trainings in areas that are relevant and needed, such as trauma, and social and emotional learning."

The purpose of the Summer Matters for All grant program is to increase access to summer enrichment opportunities for K-12 youth statewide during summer 2021. The selection process was highly competitive — 188 proposals were submitted totaling $7,427,584 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, non-profit social services organizations and more, to expand the number of weeks and slots, as well as to increase affordability and accessibility of summer programs.

These offerings will supplement school-based programs, as districts in Vermont received federal funds, which are also eligible for this work. The funds will also lead to more partnership options for local school-based programs.

“Summer is the perfect opportunity to help kids reconnect and recharge," Holly Morehouse, executive director of Vermont Afterschool, stated. "We are incredibly grateful to our state leaders and policymakers for their commitment to the development of the Summer Matters for All Grant Program. 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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