BURLINGTON, VT -- On the last school day for most Vermont students, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced summer school and after-school programs that will receive funds to help more than 2,500 students. The awards will be shared by 27 programs that offer academic support, enrichment activities, and career exploration.

"Study after study show that high-quality summer programs can help all children, particularly those who are struggling, to stay on track for the academic challenges ahead," Sanders said. 'It also is important for working parents to know their kids will be engaged in challenging and enriching activities.

The importance of summer programming cannot be underestimated, especially for children from low-income families," Sanders said. "For example, about two-thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap between lower-income youth and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning programs during the elementary school years. This makes low-income students less likely to graduate from high school or enter college."

The funds secured by Sanders were awarded from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice. The program is administered by the Vermont Department of Education. The funding ranges from $7,000 to more than $46,000. Area school districts benefiting from the grants include:

â?¢ Canaan Schools After-School Homework Help and Summer Program -- $14,800: Funds will be used to provide bus transportation for students of the after school and summer programs. This will increase opportunities for the most at-risk students to take advantage of these two programs in one of the most economically impoverished and "transportation poor" areas of the state.

â?¢ ENCORE Program, North Country Supervisory Union (Newport area) -- $46,470: This summer program serves over 200 students throughout the towns that comprise the North Country SU. They are partnered with Green Mountain Farm-to-School, Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, Vermont Food Bank and the 21st Century Schools Program. This grant will ensure that summer programs are provided to all of their students in need.

â?¢ Linking Learning to Life (Burlington and Bradford) -- $16,667: The Ready, Set, Work Program is a unique job readiness program designed in partnership with the Upper Valley Business Education Partnership to provide at-risk youth with skills needed to successfully transition into the workforce. It consists of an intensive five week summer program for youth in Burlington and Bradford in classroom and community based activities as well as working on-site with an employer in the community.

â?¢ Newport City Elementary "Out of School Program" -- $14,545: Funding will increase participation in five successful programs: Reading Journey, Math Expedition, Teaching Children to Care, Seventh and Eighth Grade junior Counselor Training Program and Camera Exposure. These programs help students to actively help one another develop the resources, tools and strategies needed to confront and conquer obstacles.

â?¢ Caledonia North SU "Our Community Partnering with Technology" (Lyndon) -- $20,000: The 2011 CNSU Summer Program will build on current programming in the areas of social/emotional learning, leadership activities, substance abuse prevention, education, transitioning to high school while expanding academic instruction, technology skills instruction and exposure and opportunities for students to learn more about workplace skills.

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