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Community, National Groups Support Summer Learning

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Funding cuts hit summer programs hard, but in some lucky—and active—areas, outside groups are stepping in to help fill the gap.

First, a bit of context. In a survey by the American Association of School Administrators, 29 percent said in February that they were considering elimination of summer school programs this year, compared with 19.3 percent of administrators surveyed in 2010‐11 and 22.3 percent in 2011‐12.

As Education Week's Nora Fleming wrote in her Beyond Schools blog, the Philadelphia public school system is one that will be reducing summer opportunities for children, from 19,000 children served last summer to 10,000 this year.

And in Los Angeles, one report indicates that at least 95 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District's summer budget has been cut, with school district officials reporting a reduction from $40 million five years ago to $1 million in 2012.

That's where the outside help comes in.

As Diana Lambert wrote in the Sacramento Bee, some school districts are successfully leveraging partnerships with community groups and national nonprofits to address funding gaps.

Community partners that had previously held their own summer programs this year agreed to join forces to provide a seven-week Summer Fun and Exploration multidimensional program at six sites.

In Chicago, 60 churches partner with schools to provide the Safe Haven, Safe Summer program for 2,000 Chicago school children.

And the National Summer Learning Association reports that a $4 million grant from the Walmart Foundation will support 7,000 middle schoolers in five large school districts with summer learning and meals.

The programs are operated by:
• Houston Independent School District;
• Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District;
• Pittsburgh Public Schools;
• Providence (R.I.) Public Schools; and
• Duval County Public Schools (Jacksonville, Fla.).

Each district will receive $360,000 to serve 720 young people during the summer of 2012, and the same amount to provide the same number of summer learning opportunities in 2013.

Do you think community groups and private foundations can be counted on to close the "school's out" learning gap for every student who needs summertime support?


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