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Serve, Learn and Earn: New Collaborative Workforce Development Effort

News | Nov 12, 2021 | Back to List

By Maisie Howard, Director of Development and Communications

Four prominent Vermont nonprofits gathered today at the Vermont Granite Museum to announce a new collaborative workforce development effort – called Serve, Learn & Earn – as they celebrated the graduation of one of the funded programs (ReSOURCE’s Construction 101 training). 

Serve, Learn & Earn is a collaboration of Vermont Works for Women, Audubon Vermont, ReSOURCE, and Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. The group is centered on the shared vision that every Vermonter should have a viable pathway to employment and affordable education in exchange for serving their state. Participants serve by working on important projects in priority areas such as climate, housing, and outdoor recreation.   

In 2021, the Vermont Legislature recognized the importance of this work – and this collaboration – with an appropriation of $1.85M, administered by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. This funding supports each organization’s direct service training programs, increasing opportunities for Vermonters to obtain jobs that meet their needs, even during these challenging times, while also meeting the needs of Vermont’s businesses facing workforce shortages. 

Equity is a top priority in this work. Rhoni Basden, Executive Director of Vermont Works for Women, explained, “Investing in women and girls is good for our communities and for the economy.  Working to remove the barriers and challenges many women and youth face entering high demand, high wage jobs requires collaboration and support. VWW aims to train, empower and advance the opportunities that are available and works to ensure economic security for women.” 

“COVID accelerated a twenty-year trend toward lower labor force participation” added Tom Longstreth, Executive Director of ReSOURCE. “And while the unemployment rate has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, the Vermont workforce is still down by 30,000 workers while the employment to population ratio is down by 10%. By retraining side-lined workers we can reverse these negative trends. ReSOURCE is achieving strong results through our Construction Intensives and helping to meet urgent needs among employers.” 

Graduates of ReSource Construction 101

This collaboration benefits both Vermont workers and the state itself. “Vermont’s birds thrive when Vermont’s rural communities and our landscape of open, working lands thrive,” said David Mears, Executive Director of Audubon Vermont. “These vital funds have enabled this wonderful partnership which, among other benefits, is providing us with an opportunity to help train a new generation of people who know how to both make a living from and protect our green hills and silver waters.” 

Breck Knauft, Executive Director of Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, explained how important this work is: “We all learn by doing – this is common sense. If we can give young adults the chance to roll up their sleeves and work together on high-priority projects, not only will they get things done, but they’ll learn an incredible amount. And, thanks to VYCC’s long-standing relationship with the Department of Forest, Parks, & Recreation, we’ve been able to align our collaboration with numerous state priorities.”  

Just this year, Serve, Learn & Earn expects to: 

  • Create 375 jobs for youth and young adults in Vermont 
  • Complete an anticipated 3,400 participant weeks of service 
  • Provide $1,224,412 in earned wages and/or stipends
  • Offer 147 AmeriCorps positions that lead to Segal Education awards totaling $354,730 


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