What could happen when students are engaged with just-right, high-interest books over the summer months? At Orange County Public Schools (FL), a six-week summer reading academy increase average Lexile scores by 44%. In the summer of 2015, South Berwyn, Illinois, a district where 100% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch and 90% are English language learners, defied the odds and not only avoided summer slide but experienced a significant increase in reading proficiency.
There is increasing global attention to the growing field of brain research, but what are we learning today that may inform programs that serve children? How do environment and life experiences impact brain development? What can be done to mitigate the negative effects of trauma on the brain? As our knowledge of the brain grows, so too does the opportunity to use this information to actively shape programs, practices, and policies that promote the well-being of children and youth.
Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) partners with a number of community-based organizations (CBOs) to serve more than 6,500 students. Through the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth (OFCY), the city provides funding to CBOs to serve more than 2,400 students, many in partnership with OUSD programming. Still more students are served by Oakland Parks and Recreation, city libraries, and community based organizations operating alongside this system. With such great diversity of programs, funding, and partnerships, there is a need for coordination and collaboration to ensure as many young people as possible are provided with high-quality summer learning opportunities.
How Summer Learning Strengthens Students’ Success is an independent evaluation of three Summer Matters pilot programs. The report measures impact on students’ academic achievement – both during the summer months and extending throughout the school year. Analysis of the data concluded high quality summer learning programs in Fresno, Los Angeles and Sacramento have bolstered students’ academic success by strengthening their academic skills in general and literacy skills in particular, and increasing the effectiveness of their work habits and confidence in their abilities as learners.
Nonprofit organizations serving young people exist to provide meaningful opportunities for those young people to build their skills; experience positive, supportive relationships; and prepare for the future. No one would judge an organization’s worth by its financial soundness alone, but financially unhealthy programs threaten an organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Unfortunately, although they are critical to effective management, core organizational capabilities and effective administrative functions often are mistakenly perceived as peripheral to an organization’s mission.