GIV's Mission and History

GIV strives to be a place where every young Vermonter knows they are welcome, feels excited to attend, and is wholly supported to engage and expand their horizons.

The Governor’s Institutes helps Vermont create productive, empowered, and engaged young adults by reaching out to diverse learners with high-impact, world-class learning opportunities that stimulate their personal growth and expand their aspirations, perspectives, and career horizons.


Committed to making world-class, accelerated enrichment programs financially and geographically accessible to every young person throughout Vermont, GIV encourages participation without regard to economic status, gender, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical ability.

About GIV

High school is a vital part of young peoples lives, and GIV has a decades-long track record of helping students engage more critically in their high school academics as well as raising the bar on their future horizons.

Students and young artists come from all walks of life, from the economically disadvantaged and rurally isolated to those who have many advantages but whose needs are underserved by their schools.

Institutes are hosted on Vermont college campuses to give students the opportunity to rehearse their futures. They’ll sample college life and get a feel for campus, learn to live with a roommate, and delve into intensive study. Each year, a startling number of GIV graduates call their Institute experiences “life-changing.”

Following an Institute experience, GIV encourages students and young artists to engage in their communities and become involved citizens. Faculty and staff are available to alums as they consider future school and career choices.

Mission and Philosophy

GIV’s mission is to help Vermont create productive, empowered, and engaged young adults by reaching out to diverse learners with high-impact, world-class learning opportunities that stimulate their personal growth and expand their aspirations, perspectives, and career horizons. Learn more about the team here.

Our Vision is a World In Which…

  • Young people who have academic enthusiasm and aspirations feel safe, supported, and encouraged to pursue intellectual and creative questions, as well as school and career goals, that fulfill their highest potential.
  • Motivated artists’ and students’ access to and participation in accelerated learning is determined by talent and interest and not limited by demographics, economic means, or geography.
  • Young people engage deeply, creatively and joyfully in advanced learning they care about and emerge with a passion for learning, new skills in their field, and tools for building community.
  • Vermont’s high-potential students have an effective and powerful advocate for their education and achievement.
Global Issues Student 2023

GIV is ‘Radically Allophiliac!

What this means at GIV is… Every gender identity, sex, race, color, national origin, physical ability, religion, hometown, personality type, body type, socioeconomic background, political belief, cat lover, dog lover, and zombie lover is welcome at GIV.

We strive to create a community between all of our Institutes where every participant is united by a passion to learn and grow and support each other as human beings.

Here at GIV we actively create a culture of learning that promotes inclusivity among our students and staff in the following areas

Geographic Inclusivity

First and foremost, GIV exists to reach all of the students and young artists in Vermont who seek a learning opportunity like GIV – no matter where they live. In 2023, GIV welcomed student representatives from 71 schools and homeschools spanning every county. However, Vermont’s most rural counties remain underserved in numbers, and you can help get the message out!

Economic Inclusivity

We believe that the GIV experience can be affordable and accessible to all Vermont families. Our sliding scale tuition model allows each student and their family to pay an affordable tuition amount based upon their income and special circumstances. We also offer payment plans and scholarships to ensure that any student who wishes to attend is able to.

Gender and Identity Inclusivity

The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont continues to make gender diversity one of our top outreach and recruitment priorities, while also recognizing the complex and non-binary nature of gender.

GIV enthusiastically welcomes and accommodates all gender identities and orientations.

Ethnic and Racial Inclusivity

GIV also prioritizes both reaching out to racial and ethnic minorities in Vermont during our recruitment season and ensuring that we are providing a welcoming environment for students and young artists from all cultures. With the generous help of the Americorps*VISTA and CEDO We All Belong programs, we have built active referral partnerships with New American communities, school diversity coordinators, and service agencies, and prioritized cultural competency training throughout all of our Institutes.

Physical Accessibility and More

We constantly strive to make our Institutes more accessible to all Vermont students and young artists. One way we are working to achieve this goal is by partnering with the colleges and universities that host our summer Institutes to ensure that educational and recreational spaces are accessible to students with physical disabilities. We also welcome many students with emotional or developmental challenges or trauma backgrounds who are good fits for GIV’s non-therapeutic, intensive residential study environment. See our other pages for more information about our accommodations for students, families, and educators.

GIV’s impact stretches out across the State.

Learn more about how GIV supports young people in Vermont with our annual Impact Reports!


GIV began in 1982 when Vermont’s Commissioner of Education and the Director of the Vermont Arts Council recognized an extraordinary deficiency in arts education in the state’s public schools. The Governor’s Institute on the Arts was established to address that need with the blessing of then-Governor Richard Snelling.

The new Arts Institute’s immediate impact made it apparent that Vermont’s high-potential students and young artists could benefit from opportunities to delve deeply into other topics generally unavailable in Vermont high schools. New Institutes focused on Science and Public Affairs, followed by Engineering, Asian Cultures, Environmental Science, Mathematics and Information Technology.

In recent years, several more Institutes have been added that focus on the intersection of student interests and Vermont’s workforce needs. As of 2023, GIV partners with seven Vermont colleges to hold eight residential summer Institutes serving over 500 young Vermonters each year. With contributions from many professionals, schools, business and organizational partners, the GIV Institutes harness the very best of Vermont’s resources to teach and inspire students to reach their full potential.

Since 1983, over 13,000 students have embraced the unique opportunity to deepen their educations through GIV, and GIV has become one of the longest-running Governor’s Schools in the country.

40 Years of the Governor's Institutes of Vermont: The Story of GIV's Past, Present, & Future!

In 2023, we set out to make a film that captured GIV’s past, present, and future. In creating this film, we learned that GIV has certainly grown and evolved over the years, but the core principles of our mission and philosophies of education have stayed the same.

This the story of how GIV began, how it has grown, and how it continues to change the lives of young people 40 years later.

Noteworthy Events


GIV is founded by Christine Graham, Steven Kaagan, Ellen Lovell, and Stephan Morse. Christine Graham is the organization’s first Executive Director.


The Arts Institute enrolls its first overflowing class of young people at Johnson State College with the direction of Susan Sgorbati.


The Institute on Global Issues & Youth Action (then called International Affairs) is created by John Ungerleider at the School for International Training, and the Science & Technology Institute begins at UVM.


Founding Executive Director Christine Graham is succeeded by David Gibson.


Jean Olson takes over leadership as GIV’s third Executive Director.


The Science and Technology Institute grows into two separate Institutes: Engineering and a new Science & Technology Institute based at UVM’s Geology Department.


With the support of the Freeman Foundation, Juefei Wang founds the Asian Cultures Institute at UVM.


The first Winter Weekend takes place at Middlebury College.


Two new GIV Institutes, one in Education and the other in Information Technology, are born.


One-day Artshops are introduced throughout the state. The Vermont legislature passes H.C.R. 120 recognizing GIV.


The Vermont State Math Coalition partners with GIV to create the Mathematical Sciences Institute.


Karen Taylor Mitchell becomes GIV’s fourth Executive Director in 28 years. The Jean Olson Endowment is created to honor its outgoing Executive Director who led GIV for 16 years.


GIV celebrates the milestone of serving 10,000 young people by embarking on an ambitious Board-led initiative to serve more deserving young Vermonters each year.


A sliding scale tuition model is introduced to make the Institutes more affordable for all Vermont families. GIV partners with the Farm to Plate Network to offer a brand new Special Topics Institute called Farms, Food and Your Future at Vermont Technical College.


GIV celebrates 30 years of providing world-class learning opportunities for high school students and young artists with an independently-supervised long-term alumni outcomes study.


GIV adds a new Entrepreneurship Institute while the IT Institute transforms into the Information Technology and Digital Media Institute, still at Champlain College.


Two popular new summer Institutes are offered, one in Writing through a partnership with Bennington College and the other in Astronomy in collaboration with the Northern Skies Observatory, the Fairbanks Museum, and Lyndon State College.


GIV launches a new summer Institute in Architecture, Design and Building with new partner Norwich University.


GIV launches a groundbreaking new summer Institute on Health and Medicine in partnership with Northern Vermont Area Health Education Center. Also in 2018, the family of the Math Institute co-founder endows that Institute in his name, and the Institute is rechristened the "Kenneth I. Gross and Tony Trono Governor's Institute of Mathematical Sciences."


The Information Technology Institute is renamed Technology, Design and Coding to reflect the way its curriculum has evolved to meet workforce needs. Institute Director John Ungerleider is recognized for his 30th summer leading the Current Issues and Youth Activism Institute and through a new partnership that Institute relocates to Landmark College.


GIV responds to COVID-19 by building and launching eight online summer Immersions in Arts, Astronomy, Engineering, Environmental Science, Global Issues and Youth Action, Health & Medicine, Mathematical Sciences and Technology and Design, and creates the Governor's Institute on Advanced Leadership, GIV's first extended-length online program.


Elizabeth Frascoia, a GIV alumna, becomes GIV's fifth Executive Director.


GIV celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a celebration in Castleton, featuring performances from GIV alumni Henry Jamison, Noah Young, Brittney Malik, and more! In addition to the celebration event, GIV created a 40th Anniversary Retrospective film with interviews of the organization's founders and Directors, honoring over 12,000 student alumni since its founding.

Here’s What Some of Our Alumni Have to Say:

“I attend a very small school, so I was excited to see the broad variety of kids at GIV. Being with a large group of similar minded people made me realize that there are a lot of other bright students in the state and that even though sometimes in such a rural setting it seems like you are the only one interested in something, there are more people out there with similar interests.”
“This was one of the best things I have ever done with my summer.”
“It was amazing how many brilliant like-minded people surrounded me. There was never a dull moment and I was never in a room that didn’t contain at least a half a dozen friends.”
“My attendance resulted in the most enjoyable, informative, and enlightening two weeks of my life.”
“GIV was the best educational experience I’ve ever had.”
“GIV definitely opens up your eyes and changes your perspective on things. It gives you a range from 20-100+ new people to meet and talk to. It gives you a chance to express yourself and find yourself if you are lost. GIV is definitely an experience I will never forget. I never expected to have so much fun, yet learn so much in just 6 short days . GIV teaches you to reach out to other people, and to explore something you truly love. Friends are just another benefit. Every single person entering junior year and below… NEEDS to apply to at least one institute before they can’t. Not a suggestion, but a demand. It changes your life for better.”

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