Connecticut high schoolers to decide how to spend $1.5M in federal relief

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WESTPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — Dozens of high schools across Connecticut will soon be getting additional federal funding, but it is the students who will decide how that money gets spent in a program known as Voice 4 Change.

“Let’s have a therapy dog at school every single day,” was a pitch from one team of students at Staples High School in Westport.

Gov. Ned Lamont was at the high school Monday to hear how students would spend their share of $1.5 million in money from the American Rescue Plan that has been set aside to be invested in Connecticut schools, and how students want it invested.

“It’s up to students at every step of the process,” State Sen. Will Haskel said. “Students get to pitch the ideas and then they get to vote on the ideas. And soon, hopefully, you’ll see that money coming into good use right here at Staples.”

Each winning project will get $20,000. So, that $1.5 million will get spread among more than 80 schools in approximately 45 districts.

“Connecticut has always been an ideas factory with the greatest entrepreneurs in the world, and I’ve always thought, why don’t we have more entrepreneurs in the public sector,” Lamont said.

Staples High students are already stepping up with ways to improve not only their schools but their communities.

“My personal proposal would be a kind of charity fair or activism fair,” Jeffrey Pogue, Staples High School student said.

Students have until Jan. 9 to finish their proposals.

“Young people can change the world, truly. And we can definitely think of some great ways to spend these funds,” Staples High School student Natalie Bandura said.

The rest of the country will be looking at how Connecticut’s students do and maybe this program will expand.

If you want more information, head to portal.ct.gov/voice4change.

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