United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

June 18, 2015

United Way Expands Successful Summer Learning Program

 Over 3,000 K-3 students expected to benefit from literacy programs proven to avoid summer learning loss and increase reading skills

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Looking for literacy activities to do with children this summer? Check out our calendar for fun ideas that promote learning.

BOSTON — United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is expanding its nationally-recognized Summer Learning Collaborative to reach over 3,000 elementary school-age children in 25 program sites in the region. This year’s funding of $260,000 – raised from diverse partners such as Alliance Data, Boston Consulting Group, Boston Financial Data Services, Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, United Parcel Service and United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council – enables the expansion to serve over 300 more children than last year and three additional locations.

The 2015 locations will serve students from the communities of Lynn, Lawrence, Lowell, Salem, Winthrop, Peabody, Revere, Cambridge, Somerville and Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, East Boston, Allston Brighton, Chinatown and Roxbury.

Research shows that low-income children experience summer learning loss at a much higher rate than their middle-class peers, who typically benefit from enriching summer programs, learning experiences and homes filled with books and reading. Over the course of one summer vacation, this summer learning loss creates an approximate three-month achievement gap in reading skills between the two groups of children. By middle school, the cumulative effect adds up to a gap equal to two full years of achievement.

A partnership between United Way, BOSTnet, community-based organizations, and school districts, the Summer Learning Collaborative improves children’s literacy outcomes by integrating literacy activities in fun and meaningful ways into existing summer camp programs at community-based organizations in low-income communities. It also focuses on professional development for program staff to ensure the program’s success can be sustained and scaled.

Last year:

• 85% of the 2,700 participating children avoided summer learning loss;

• 82% of children said they enjoy reading more now than they did at the end of the summer;

• 69% of the participating children maintained or increased reading skills; and

• 85% of the participating children said the staff made reading fun.

“For too many children, summer time is when important progress made during the school year is lost,” said Michael K. Durkin, president at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “This partnership is specifically designed to target summer learning, helping children to maintain, and even increase, their reading skills over the summer to keep them on track to be proficient readers by third grade.”

The communities and locations for the 2015 Summer Learning Collaborative include:

Boston: Ellis Memorial, Dorchester YMCA, East Boston YMCA, Egleston YMCA, Oak Square YMCA, Wang YMCA, East Boston Social Centers

Cambridge: East End House

Lawrence: Lawrence YWCA, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Merrimack Valley YMCA

Lowell: Girls Inc. of Lowell, Community Teamwork Inc. (at Murkland, Pawtucketville and McAuliffe schools)

Lynn: Camp Fire North Shore, Girls Inc. of Lynn, Gregg Neighborhood House

Peabody: For Kids Only Afterschool

Revere: For Kids Only Afterschool

Salem: For Kids Only Afterschool

Somerville: Somerville YMCA

Winthrop: For Kids Only Afterschool