A case for the right summer program.

25 July 2018
Picture of three girls canoeing in a lake, waving at the camera

For many children, summer brings new experiences, fun with family and friends, and a break from the regimented schedule of the school year. But summer can also mean inconsistent meals, extended time left unsupervised, and significant learning loss for children from lower-income communities.


In a June 2018 article published in U.S. News and World Report, Matthew Boulay, founder and CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, states that “summer is the most unequal time in America. We pour enormous amounts of resources in children learning but much of that investment stops in the summer months.” Children from lower-income communities who don’t have access to engaging summer programs may lose up to two months of achievements gained during the school year, especially in reading and math. Without intervention, summer learning loss compounds year after year. “It's not so much what happens in a single summer, it's the cumulative loss that occurs summer after summer after summer," Boulay says. Beth Unverzagt, Director of OregonASK, a non-profit dedicated to addressing issues related to out-of-school time services, echoes Boulay’s comments with her perspective on summer’s challenge for lower-income youth. “We know over the summer months high income kids have more opportunities than low income kids and the low socioeconomic status kids aren't going to camp or the library or fun activities and that opportunity gap makes a difference,” Unverzagt shares with U.S. News and World Report.


Through our commitment to nurturing the potential of every youth and teen, the Y has partnered with national non-profit BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) to provide a six-week summer program, called the Power Scholars Academy, designed to prevent summer learning loss in math and reading, while fostering physical and social-emotional growth among lower-income youth. The Y’s Power Scholars Academy, held at the Greenbrier Family YMCA in Chesapeake, provides these opportunities for approximately 100 local youth who enjoy daily enrichment activities, exciting field trips, a summer reading program, and positive relationships with mentors to break the cycle of summer learning loss. As Y District Vice President Katie Burgus says, “This partnership between the Y and national non-profit BELL -- Building Educated Leaders for Life -- doesn’t just tackle summer learning loss and the achievement gap. It builds strong youth-- academically, physically, and emotionally.”


To learn more about how you can support the Power Scholars Academy and the Y’s efforts to prevent summer learning loss, contact Jamie Childress, Vice President for Youth Development, at jchildress@ymcashr.org.