afghan welcome

Members of the Bennington County Open Arms volunteer group are shown welcoming the first Afghan family upon their arrival in Bennington. 

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MONTPELIER — The Vermont Agency of Education has committed $200,000 to support two national refugee non-profits with a presence in Vermont to ensure that refugee students and their families are provided with access to summer programs and community mentoring. The AOE will also leverage an existing partnership with the WIDA Consortium to offer targeted professional learning opportunities for teachers serving Afghan students and other multilingual newcomers.

“This grant and teacher training responds to the immediate need to welcome Afghan newcomers to Vermont with high-quality, culturally responsive education services,” said Secretary of Education Dan French. “We’re building on the warm welcome provided by local schools to engage these students and their families in the education system and demonstrate all that their new Vermont communities have to offer.”

In late 2021 Vermont received its first Afghan families as part of Operation Allies Welcome, the Federal government’s effort to support vulnerable Afghans as they safely resettle in the United States. As of spring 2022, Vermont is now home to over 100 school-aged Afghan children and more families are expected to arrive in summer 2022.

The AOE will use $200,000 in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to create the Afghan Refugee Partnership Grant, whose purpose is to address the unique barriers faced by these students and families and enable them to more successfully engage with their new schools and communities. The Ethiopian Community Development Council and U.S. Committees for Refugees and Immigrants are recipients of the grant, each receiving $100,000. The AOE is also working in close partnership with the Agency of Human Services, State Refugee Office to align efforts and target an additional $200,000 received through the federal Afghan Refugee School Impact: Support to Schools Initiative to school districts and/or community partners.

During the summer of 2022, the AOE will offer two training opportunities to Vermont teachers serving Afghan and other newcomer students through the WIDA Consortium. One online workshop on engaging multilingual newcomers will be offered to classroom teachers, with a more in-depth version to follow for language specialists.


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