This VtDigger piece by Elizabeth Gribkoff looks at the impact for women owned business, workers on the frontline, and in some of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19.
VCW’s Cary Brown is quoted: “We know where women are starting, which is that more of them are concentrated in low wage jobs, more of them are tipped workers.”
(5/4/20) - As Vermont moves forward with reimagining the future of its educational system, now is the time to center the principles of equity and access at the very core of that process. The VSC is already providing significant access to education and training for a wide range of fields, including high-wage, high-demand jobs that the Vermont economy needs. Consistently, the VSC has shown impressive innovation and creativity in broadening its reach around the state through partnerships, distance learning, and satellite locations. Focusing on equity in that access, and recognizing the impact on women, people of color, New Americans, first generation students, people with disabilities, and others whose voices aren’t always heard clearly enough, can only make it stronger.
For women in Vermont, the education that the VSC provides is an important piece of the puzzle of moving everyone toward economic well-being. In a time when women are just 20% of engineering graduates from all Vermont colleges, and only 10% of graduates in computer science, programs at Vermont Technical College can have a big impact on getting women into nontraditional fields with high salaries. Vermont Tech has a long history of recognizing the need for gender equity, and backing up that recognition with action, including programs at its Randolph Center campus that every year give hundreds of girls hands-on experiences with its STEM education.
Women in Vermont are already playing catch-up when it comes to earnings and jobs, and they need more access – not less – to higher education to turn that around. Vermont women are working at a rate that’s 8 percentage points above the national average, but they’re overrepresented in low-wage jobs. Only 60% of women working full time make enough to meet their basic needs. Women are the majority of Vermonters making less than $11 an hour – and education can be a key factor in changing that. A full 25% of women with only a high school education who work full-time earn less than $11 an hour; with a college degree, that number plunges to only 8.8%.
Many women recognize the power of higher education to change their circumstances, and we see this reflected in enrollment rates in the VSC. At Northern Vermont University, 63% of the students are women. A higher level of education means they are likely to experience lower gaps between their earnings as compared to men’s – a college degree cuts the wage gap in half as compared to women without a high school diploma.
Unfortunately, too few of our young women are accessing higher education. Only 57% of young women graduating from Vermont high schools go straight on to college. That has our state lagging well behind the national average of 72%, and dead last among the New England states. On the other hand, we have a good rate of women going back to education a little bit later in life. Northern Vermont University is a critical component with 38% of its students age 24 and up, and of those, a whopping 70% are women. The obstacles to their educations that many of these women face every day cannot be ignored. These are often women who have children, homes, jobs, and circumstances that don’t allow them to relocate or commute long distances for school. Losing local access could mean an end to their educations.
Data such as that cited here, compiled by the Change the Story VT partnership of the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Works for Women, and the Vermont Commission on Women, is absolutely crucial to understanding the effects of decisions made about the future of the VSC. This is just a taste of what’s necessary, however – there are many populations in Vermont who are greatly affected by these decisions, and data is needed for all of them to ensure that equity is centered. Good decisions will also depend on comprehensive, critical analysis of that data, which takes time and deliberation. Vermont has a bit of time now that the proposal to close three campuses has been tabled. We should use that time in a way that puts equity absolutely front and center, ensuring that all Vermonters have access to the education they need.
The second of several topical resource guides for dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find all of our COVID-19 resources at http://women.vermont.gov/covid19.
ACCD hotline to report impacts and be directed to resources: (802) 461-5143, Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Center for Women & Enterprise Vermont offers business counseling and online workshops for entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses. They are offering weekly online ‘Brain Trusts’ that allow entrepreneurs to connect with each other and strategize solutions for each other’s businesses.
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility’s COVID-19 resources for businesses, including copies of past webinars on topics including transition to a remote workplace, supporting employees with child care needs, and keeping your business and community safe.
VT COVID-19 Response Fund will focus on extending and expanding the capacity of nonprofits that provide basic needs to vulnerable populations, specifically the elderly and those who rely on the social safety net for human necessities. Recipients include community-based organizations, particularly the agencies across the state that address the causes and conditions of poverty through a coordinated community response, targeted senior centers and meal sites, as well as the lead agencies who assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness by providing equal access to housing and assistance based on clients’ strengths and need.
Vermont Department of Labor’s COVID-19 Update Page
Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program provides business planning services and technical assistance to farm, food, and forest products businesses through its business advising program. It also has a web page with resources for working lands businesses related to COVID-19 response, found here.
Vermont Manufacturers Extension Center (VMEC) is providing free remote crisis response consultations to Vermont businesses, especially those involved in manufacturing.
Vermont Small Business Development Center Assistance Page. The SBA is rolling out two financing programs to help small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). The EIDL includes an immediate grant of $10,000 that is available to all businesses, including sole proprietors, as soon as three days after applying.
Vermont Small Business Development Center’s disaster recovery guide from Tropical Storm Irene
Women’s Agricultural Network (WAgN) COVID-19 Resources for Vermont Farmers and Food Producers
Americans for the Arts will be offering a webinar on April 8th at 3pm with Arts Government Affairs staff and guests who will lay out the various pieces of the legislation and how it pertains to the arts sector.
Americans for the Arts is conducting a national survey to demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 on the creative sector through data and stories.
New England Foundation for the Arts has also assembled resources to share with the arts and culture sector, including information on the CARES Act: Unemployment Insurance & Small Business Assistance for artists and organizations; how and where to apply for unemployment insurance and small business assistance and emergency resources and relief.
Vermont Arts Council has established a Vermont Rapid Response Artist Relief fund to respond to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on artists across our state. There's information and resources for artists and organizations as well as a guide for creating virtual arts experiences during this time of social distancing.
Common Good Vermont provides information and help to VT nonprofits responding to COVID-19.
Vermont Community Foundation, Special and Urgent Needs Grants of $500-$5,000 to help Vermont nonprofits dealing with unexpected emergencies.
Regional Planning Commissions provide emergency preparedness and disaster planning for communities. Contact your regional entity for specific information.
The Vermont League of Cities and Towns can be a resource point to share information with other areas and municipalities.
The first of several topical resource guides for dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Find all of our COVID-19 resources at http://women.vermont.gov/covid19.
Access to Food
Hunger Free VT is putting together outreach materials and will be updating their website to keep everyone in the loop with any important changes to school meal programs, 3SquaresVT, and other nutrition programs.
Vermont Food Bank offers hunger relief during COVID-19 and information about how to access the food you need.
3SquaresVT - Has your household lost pay? Have your childcare expenses increased? You could be eligible to receive a 3SquaresVT benefit or increase the benefit you already receive.
Senior Helpline by AgeWell at 1-800-642-5119 - Toll-free and confidential aging resource in Vermont for information and assistance.
Senior Meal Site Map - Many senior meal sites in Vermont are still operating, but instead of community meals there are take-out meals. Contact your local site on this list to make arrangements for a meal.
VSECU is offering a $2,000 loan with a 24-month loan term and an annual percentage rate APR as low as 0% to help any Vermonter.
The Vermont Public Utility Commission ordered a temporary moratorium on involuntary natural gas, electric and telecommunications service disconnections. This means that if you are not able to make your payments for natural gas, electricity or land-line telephones, you will not be shut off. However, charges will still accrue during this time.
Student Loan Forbearance info from the U.S. Department of Education
Department of Children and Families is extending housing supports for homeless individuals
Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition Updates about policy changes, resources, and closures related to housing amid COVID-19.
Department of Children & Families, Economic Services Division is waiving in-person contact requirements for state government benefits programs. Apply online or by phone at 1-800-479-6151.
Economic Services COVID-19 page provides updates from ESD including guidance for visitors.
Vermont Legal Aid has created a COVID-19 page with info on evictions, health care, 3 squares, etc.
IRS guidance on the Federal Economic Impact Payments, which are an advance on a new tax credit for 2020, will be distributed in the coming weeks.
The Vermont Department of Labor provides information on how the stimulus package, or CARES Act, will impact Vermonters.
The Department of Labor has issued guidance for Employers and Employees, including information on the impact of the CARES Act on unemployment insurance benefits, employee sick-time and other issues as a result of COVID-19.
The Full-Service Unemployment Insurance Claims Center can be reached at 1-877-214-3330.
Equal Pay Day is coming up Tuesday, March 31st, and it's more important than ever to draw attention to the ways women are uniquely economically impacted during these hard times. Hannah Lane has provided a great overview of the relevant points from the CTS report, and busted any myths non-believers may still hold dear. You can read the commentary here.