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The Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network recently received a $1,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Spark Connecting Community grant program. The grant will help further the network’s mission of promoting anti-racism in schools through student leadership.

“We envision a Vermont that acknowledges how racism is historically and institutionally embedded and takes seriously our ethical obligation to end racism,” said Kyle Mitchell, a student member from Middlebury Union High School.

The Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network was founded this past summer to bring a diverse group of students together from around the state to advocate for anti-racist educations. The group endeavors to make an impact by undertaking projects in schools, such as encouraging curriculum changes and changes in statewide school policies.

One idea for the VCF grant money is to purchase racially inclusive and anti-racist books that amplify diverse voices for elementary schools around Vermont. Network representatives then may go into schools via Zoom for a powerful activity and discussion based around the books, led by students in the network.

One student member sums up why it is so vital to start with the youngest Vermonters: “Racism is driven by mindsets, unconcious biases, and how our brains are structured so if we can get young people into anti-racist habits early on, it is likely that these habits will stick with them into adulthood,” said Olivia Miller, a student member from Champlain Valley Union High School

The network represents eight counties in Vermont: Addison, Windsor, Chittenden, Washington, Rutland, Windham, Bennington, and Essex. The high schools represented are Middlebury High School, Woodstock Union High School, Mount Mansfield Union High school, Champlain Valley Union High School, South Burlington High School, Harwood Union High School, West Rutland High School, Leland & Gray, Vergennes High School, Proctor High School, White River Valley High School, Montpelier High School, Arlington Memorial High School, and Thetford Academy. The goal is to have representatives from every county with an emphasis on students and teachers of color.

If you are an interested student, or a teacher or student group who is interested in being involved in our network, email antiracismvtschools@gmail.com.

Visit vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information.