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Combatting the “summer slide”
By Lisa DiMartino / July 11, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...
The “summer slide” may sound like the latest fun attraction at a nearby water park, but it actually refers to summer learning loss. According to the National Summer Learning Association, “Summer learning loss, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer, is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate.”

What is being done for Rhode Island youth to combat the “summer slide”? Three programs the Foundation is supporting – run by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence, The College Crusade of Rhode Island, and the Warwick Public Schools – are among the efforts.

Through its Princes to Kings Mentorship Summer Enrichment Program (P2K SEP), the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence will work to increase high school graduation rates among young men of color, ages 12 to 18, who attend three Providence public schools: Gilbert Stuart Middle School, Roger Williams Middle School, and Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School.

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photos by Scott Lapham for Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence

The six-week program will introduce participants to the academic materials they will see in the upcoming school year, as well as provide group mentoring and leadership development activities.

The Foundation’s $15,000 grant will support stipends for 15 of the P2K SEP participants, with funds helping youth who otherwise might need to find summer employment to supplement their family’s income. The grant is funded jointly through our Educational Success and Children & Families sectors.

For education, this grant aligns with our strategy to identify and spread best practices; for children and families, this prevention program provides the necessary supports to a fragile student co-hort.

The College Crusade of Rhode Island works with middle school students in Rhode Island’s low-income communities with the goals of increasing high school graduation rate, college and career readiness, and college completion. Services are provided during the school year, as well as during the summer, as the Crusade works to close the achievement gaps between low-income students and their peers, especially in our state’s urban districts. Programs include robotics clubs, literacy programs, study skills workshops, and more.

The College Crusade fits squarely within the Foundation’s (education) strategy of supporting best practices. It is an evidence-based, proven intervention that is working at a significant scale across five school districts (Central Falls, Cranston, Pawtucket, Providence, and Woonsocket). The Foundation’s $150,000 grant leverages additional federal sources to fund year-round programming and summer sessions.

A grant to the Warwick Public Schools will support its Summer Institute for Middle School (SIMS) induction program. This weeklong program in August will provide social/emotional and academic supports to 50 students from each of two middle schools, Winman and Veterans, to help them transition smoothly into the middle school setting. Students will participate in project-learning activities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), the humanities, and physical education, as well as activities for leadership and culture building.

This $37,365 grant also is funded through our Educational Success initiative and fits within our strategy for spreading best practices to encourage retention of students. Creating supports and strategies within the school structure can help students feel a sense of belonging and an opportunity to reengage in their education.

It is our hope that these programs will stop the “summer slide” and help close the achievement gaps between lower and higher income youth.
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