Combating Summer Learning Loss
To succeed in school and life, children need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills. This is especially true during the summer months. Statistics show that more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.
In the spring of 2012, the Community Foundation announced it would invest at least $1 million into the Literacy 2030 initiative to provide grants during the next three years to organizations focused on educational attainment and literacy improvement.
St. Lawrence Place (SLP) one of the organizations receiving funding through this program, keeps homeless families and their children together and helps them cultivate the skills to become contributing members of the community. Over the last seven years, the organization has worked diligently to insure that their summer camp program offers more than just childcare, but provides an educational opportunity for the children who so desperately need access to quality developmental, educational and cultural experiences.
In 2012, the Foundation awarded SLP $25,000 to provide a full-day, literacy-based summer program to 32 homeless and impoverished children aged 4-11. The program included daily literacy-based activities and tutoring involving volunteers from Brockman Elementary School and Richland County Public Library as well as weekly cultural activities via field trips to museums, theaters and the zoo.
Pre and post testing showed that the vast majority of students increased their reading fluency during the program. SLP also increased parental involvement through Family Literacy Night events that included a meal along with family reading time and discussion.
After seeing such great results from this program, the Foundation awarded SLP $50,000 in 2013 to continue the summer learning program and expand the literacy component to their after-school program. From June to December of last year, 41 children ages 4-11 were served in the summer and after-school programs. Interim testing shows that 74% of children improved their literacy skills during that time period with 16% maintaining their level.
“Based on the current body of evidence on summer learning loss across demographics, which shows that most children typically lose literacy ability over the summer due to ‘summer slide,’ this is a remarkable feat, especially with children who are from poverty,” said Becca Smith Hill, Director of Grants & Special Projects at SLP.
The Community Foundation is proud to support innovative programs in the Midlands that are bettering the lives of children in our community and our community as a whole.