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Campaign Aims to Increase Programs for Low-Income Children

 low income, poor, poverty line, children, underprivileged, national, summer, learning, foundation 





Baltimore -- The National Summer Learning Association, through its affiliate Summer Learning Advocates, is launching a three-year national campaign to secure at least $50 million in new public investment by the end of 2012 for high-quality summer learning programs for low-income children across the country. The National Campaign for Summer Learning is made possible by generous support from The Atlantic Philanthropies.


Despite extensive research on the benefits of summer learning programs for poor children, there is a surprising lack of public investment and support for summer programs focused on closing the achievement gap and promoting healthy youth development. In fact, there are currently no federal programs that exclusively target the summer months as a key strategy to improve outcomes for children in high-poverty communities.


The National Campaign for Summer Learning aims to secure national, state and local funding, including federal funding for the STEP UP Act, summer learning legislation passed by Congress in 2007. STEP UP, which Congress has not yet funded, would provide the first federal funding exclusively for summer learning programs. It would provide at least five weeks of high-quality programs to thousands of students in low-income communities in five states every summer.


The campaign will also work closely with state and local policy-makers to use funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other federal, state, and local funding sources for innovative summer learning programs.


The National Summer Learning Association will mobilize its network of more than 5,000 program providers to work with policy-makers to ensure that providing summer learning opportunities for low-income children becomes a national policy and funding priority by 2012. For instance, supporters will share compelling stories of youth outcomes, and successful utilization of public funding in summer programs. They will write letters to members of Congress and state elected officials urging funding of summer learning programs. And program providers will invite elected officials to visit successful summer learning programs in their districts.


"The research is quite clear: children from low-income communities fall behind academically in the summer," said Ron Fairchild, chief executive officer of the National Summer Learning Association. "This campaign will increase public investment so that more kids can participate in high-quality summer learning programs."


The National Summer Learning Association is a newly-established non-profit that builds on more than fifteen years of expertise from the staff of the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University. On September 1, 2009, the staff of the Center separated from Johns Hopkins to become the independent National Summer Learning Association. The Association is a professional membership organization that serves as a network hub for thousands of summer learning program providers and stakeholders across the country, providing them with the tools, resources and expertise they need to deliver quality summer learning opportunities to our nation's youth. These tools include professional development, quality assessment, best practices dissemination and strategic consulting.


The Association created Summer Learning Advocates, a 501(c)4 to lead the work of influencing public policy and increasing public investment in summer learning programs. Summer Learning Advocates will work with federal, state and local policy-makers to advocate for funding to expand summer learning opportunities for low-income children.


"This move will allow us to more aggressively pursue increased public investment in summer learning programs so that more low-income children can participate in them," said Fairchild, who also serves as executive director of Summer Learning Advocates.  


The history of the National Summer Learning Association dates back to 1992, when Johns Hopkins student Matthew Boulay recruited fellow undergraduates to tutor Baltimore public school students during the summer. His project grew into a successful summer program called Teach Baltimore that boosted students' reading scores.

At the same time, research showed cumulative losses in reading and math skills over the summer, losses that disproportionately affect low-income students. Studies showed that the summer slide contributed to high drop-out rates and the achievement gap. The research underscored the need for a national organization devoted to making summer learning available to all children, especially those in poverty who lack high-quality summer opportunities, such as lessons, camps, vacations, visits to museums and parks and enrichment programs. In 2001, to meet that need, Teach Baltimore evolved into the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University and, in September 2009, the Center became the independent National Summer Learning Association. 


The mission of the National Summer Learning Association is to connect and equip schools and community organizations to deliver quality summer learning programs to our nation's youth to help close the achievement gap. For general information on summer learning or the National Summer Learning Association, visit For information on the Campaign for Summer Learning,

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic focuses on four critical social problems: Ageing, Disadvantaged Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam. To learn more, please visit:

 Contact: Angie Cannon October 20, 2009   


Debra Carroll


STORY TAGS: low income, poor, poverty line, children, underprivileged, national, summer, learning, foundation

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