Summer Learning Collaborative

Learning should never take a summer vacation.

Summer is the perfect time for kids to practice social and emotional skills in a safe, supportive environment. From learning how to get along with others to identifying and categorizing their feelings, kids build these skills by coming to understand other perspectives, managing emotions and behaviors, and solving problems. A kid with solid social and emotional abilities is better equipped for success in school and in life.

That’s why United Way invests in programs like the Summer Learning Collaborative (SLC). Kids can lose months of learning over the summer, and United Way leverages the SLC as one way to turn this detrimental trend into an opportunity. By re-engaging local children when they’re out of school, the SLC ensures that when they go back in the fall, their social and emotional education stays on track.

How It Works

The Summer Learning Collaborative spans a network of 26 sites across 14 communities throughout our region. The program integrates skill-building strategies and activities into kids’ programming during the summer months when they have the time and energy to put real effort into building their social and emotional maturity.

Almost 3,000 school-age students participate in the SLC, and they spend their summer weeks doing activities that are both educational and engaging. These include trips to the Cambridge Design Lab to foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation; a “Neat Knitters” program that fosters mindfulness and relaxation; and a community gardening project with Mill City Grows in Lowell.

Progress Made

School districts are seeing the benefits of social and emotional learning. Across the state, schools are placing a greater emphasis on weaving in relationship-building, decision-making, self-control, and awareness education into their curriculum.

These efforts also have a real, measurable effect on student success. Recent research shows that children with these skills achieve higher academic performance, possess a more positive attitude toward themselves, and experience fewer behavioral and substance abuse issues down the road. And a recent evaluation of the Collaborative revealed that by the end of last summer, 68% of young people who participated in programs maintained or improved their social emotional skills.

For more information on how to get involved with the Summer Learning Collaborative, contact Kate Shea at