Vermont leaders announce initiatives to ‘Change the Story’ on economic lives of girls, young women

News Release — Task Force on Young Women and the Vermont Economy
Nov. 29, 2013

WINOOSKI – The Task Force on Young Women and the Vermont Economy, composed of business, labor, government, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders from around the state, will announce a series of recommendations and commitments to change the story for Vermont’s girls and young women by improving their work, social and economic lives for the future.

A press conference is scheduled on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 10-10:30 a.m. at the Vermont State House, Montpelier, Cedar Creek Room.

Gov. Peter Shumlin will join the 29 Task Force members, who have been working together over a tight eight-month timeframe prior to the next legislative session to develop a curve-bending campaign entitled Change the Story. Task Force leaders have met 20 times, investing more than 125 collective hours to develop action-oriented initiatives that ensure young women play a full and active role in contributing to Vermont’s economic vitality.

The Task Force on Young Women and the Vermont Economy, chaired by former Ambassador Linda Tarr-Whalen, of Burlington, a distinguished senior fellow at Demos, was formed last April in response to a sobering report released by Vermont Works for Women about the state of young women related to school, work and becoming adults.

Entitled Enough Said: Why We Should Listen and What We Can Do (summary & full report), the study named barriers young women in Vermont say they face when envisioning their futures, including: few allies and role models; limited exposure to career options; lack of personal finance skills; ongoing peer aggression; and concerns about achieving economic independence ultimately.

“Preparing all young people to make informed decisions about career and money is a no-brainer, but it’s especially critical for women,” said Tiffany Bluemle, executive director, Vermont Works for Women, and the Task Force convener, “because women live longer, bank less earnings over their lifetime, and are more likely to live in poverty at all ages. We are thrilled at Task Force members’ investments of energy and wisdom to create collective impact together – to change the story for girls and young women once and for all.”

Three (of nine) of the Task Force’s recommendations are to include:

• that personal finance be incorporated into state educational standards as a core competency, with incentives from the State for school districts that do so before 2018.

• that leaders in secondary and higher education initiate a statewide conversation about peer aggression to build awareness and develop the capacity of youth and adults to mitigate or prevent peer aggression in and out of school.

• that employers pursue additional innovative strategies to recruit young women for internships and jobs in which they are underrepresented.

A few of the Task Force’s commitments are to include:

• Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and Comcast are committed to increasing the number of young women in STEM-related or technical fields – by adopting and partnering with schools, supporting internships, exposing young women and girls to successful female role models, and/or pursuing new strategies to recruit and support their career advancement – and invite other Vermont businesses to join them.

• The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College will launch the Vermont Financial Literacy Action Plan in early 2014 to include public policy recommendations for broadening the personal finance knowledge of Vermont’s K-12 pupils, college students and adults.

• The Vermont Agency of Education has launched the STEM Equity Pipeline project to boost the number of girls enrolled in and completing STEM-related programs in partnership with pilot initiatives at four VT career and technical centers.

• Newport leaders will initiate a call-to-action to recruit 100 women to combine forces with schools, businesses, young women, and the Supervisory Union to advance the positive changes envisioned by the Task Force.

• The Rutland Regional Workforce Investment Board will schedule monthly meetings with key stakeholders in education, business, human resources, and youth-serving organizations to advance the Task Force recommendations, and work with the Supervisory Union to develop opportunities for 7-12th graders to explore STEM and non-traditional careers.

• The Community College of Vermont will develop an LLOC (Little Open Online Course) on financial literacy within six months.

• Navicate and Vermont Works for Women will partner with Seventh Generation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, VT Investment Energy Corp,, and Burton Snowboards to pilot Lead In!, a semester-long program that will engage 23 young women in internships and seminars that explore careers in non-traditional fields.

At the Dec. 3rd press conference, speakers will include:

• Charge of the Task Force: Linda Tarr-Whelan, Chair, Task Force on Young Women & the Vermont Economy

• Gov. Peter Shumlin

• Build Personal Finance Skills: Mike Smith, former Vermont State President, FairPoint Communications

• Expand Exposure to Careers & Role Models: Alex MacLean, Project Manager, NE Kingdom Economic Revitalization Initiative

• Promote Supportive Relationships: Nancy Heydinger, Executive Director, Girls on the Run

• A Young Woman’s Response: Annalee Beaulieu, Senior, Mount Mansfield Union High School

• Q & A: Tiffany Bluemle, Executive Director, Vermont Works for Women



Linda Tarr-Whelan, Chair –Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos; former Ambassador
Cary Brown, Vice Chair – Executive Director, Vermont Commission on Women
Joyce Judy, Vice Chair – President, Community College of Vermont
Barbara Murphy, Vice Chair – President, Johnson State College
Jan Blomstrann – President/CEO, NRG Systems, Inc.
Tiffany Bluemle – Executive Director, Vermont Works for Women
Nancy Burzon, Executive Director, Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board
Kim Coe – Director of Residential and Community Treatment Programs, Lund
Steve Dale – Executive Director, Vermont School Boards Association
Lisa Falcone – Community Impact Manager/Income, United Way of Chittenden County
Dolly Fleming – Executive Director, Mercy Connections
Cheryl Hanna – Professor, Vermont Law School
Nancy Heydinger – Executive Director, Girls on the Run
Retta Huttlinger – Manager of Major Gifts, Vermont Public Radio
Lindsey Lathrop – Assistant Director, Navicate (formerly Linking Learning to Life)
Marian Lawlor – Manager, Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, IBM
Pam Mackenzie – President/CEO, DeckerZinn, LLC; Chair, South Burlington City Council
Alex MacLean – Project Manager, Northeast Kingdom Economic Revitalization Initiative
Sandy Mayotte – Senior Vice President & Corporate Secretary, Deringer
Beth Pearce – Vermont State Treasurer
John Pelletier – Director, Center for Financial Literacy, Champlain College
Jen Peterson – Vice President for Community Grantmaking, Vermont Community Foundation
Kesha Ram – Representative, Chittenden 3-4 District, Vermont State Legislature
Jay Ramsey – Career and Technical Education Workgroup Coordinator, VT Agency of Education
Mark Redmond – Executive Director, Spectrum Youth and Family Services
Beth Sachs – Founder, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
Trish Sears – Executive Director, Newport City Renaissance Corporation
Mike Smith – former Vermont State President, Fairpoint Communications
Tom Torti – President, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce

Press Release

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  • Joanna Cummings

    The number one issue facing women, beginning when we enter the work force at a young age all through our careers, is inequality of pay. Why is that not at the top of your lists? Financial literacy is important, but getting paid equally for equal work is the keystone. I hope with all this effort and hoopla that rectifying inequality of pay is the ultimate goal.

  • Mary V.Tegel

    It’s good to see this effort underway with many of the regular participants and a few from the community at large. It would be good to see more “outside” participation and in particular from the trades and more professions (good to see the law there) and from the sustainability sector. We have women over represented among the poor and very poor as the committee movers know. Low wages and salaries, as Joanna Cummings notes, is a big part of the picture. Also women and girls do experience discrimination, not overt always. Sometimes it’s because opportunities need to be accessible to women via support for basics such as child and healthcare, addordable and appropriate transportation and housing, and support for education that addresses the specifics of a woman’s economic situation. These issues are not class or gender neutral. But these issues affect both genders. In addition to offering education for women, everyone — make & female, rich and middle class, needs to receive education about how poverty and access specifically affect women. It’s not just without educating others about the subtle and not so subtle hurdles and barriers for full inclusion for girls ad women.
    Mary Tegel
    Intern in architecture

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