Resources for Communities
Summer Starts in September Planning Guide
Summer Starts in September is a comprehensive summer learning program planning guide full of research-based strategies, program examples and tools that program leaders can use to develop an intentional and high-impact program. Download a sample of the program planning guide.
To purchase a copy, click here.
Keep Kids Learning
Resources to reach more youth with summer learning opportunities.
NSLA’s 2017 Winter Features
Building Awareness and Support
Summer Learning Research
The Achievement Gap
Plan a Summer Learning Block Party
Resources from The Wallace Foundation
Find free reports, videos, tools, infographics and other useful materials about summer learning from The Wallace Foundation and RAND Corporation in the Summer Learning Knowledge Center including their latest findings in Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth.
In December 2016, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) released the first issue of SPARK!, an ongoing publication series highlighting best practices in summer learning. This publication series was made possible by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and supports NSLA’s efforts to increase access to high quality summer learning programs across the country.
This issue of SPARK! focuses on building community systems for summer learning through six key elements: a shared vision, engaged leadership, continuous quality improvement, data management and marketing and communications.
As the national leader on summer learning and its role in education reform, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) tracks and responds to policy issues that affect summer learning at the federal, state and local levels. NSLA provides expertise, tools and resources on a number of policy issues that include 21st Century Community Learning Centers, summer meals, community service and service learning, STEM education and funding opportunities for summer programs.
NSLA promotes and advocates for sound public policy at the federal, state and local levels to improve conditions for summer learning. Meaningful change comes from these five key policy strategies:
1. Incentivize partnerships and improve partner alignment
Partnerships between summer providers serving similar groups of students ensure complete access to a broader range of services and less duplication of efforts. These partners may include summer meals sites and sponsors, schools, community-based and faith-based organizations, libraries, museums, parks and recreation centers, youth employment sponsors, and other agencies, service providers, and organizations that touch the lives of youth during the summer. The result: a community-wide network for anywhere, anytime learning.
2. Promote sustainability
Funding for summer learning doesn’t always require a new grant program. Many existing funding streams are able to support summer learning either as they currently stand or with more explicit expansion into the summer months. Smart use of existing pools of funding and greater collaboration between youth-serving sectors can greatly increase impact during the summer.
3. Improve and promote flexibility of resources
Summer service providers have access to many public funding streams already targeted to youth, especially those who are struggling academically or are considered at-risk. Policymakers should clearly define allowable use of these funds for summer activities.
4. Invest in structural supports and systems
Community-wide systems promote coordination of summer services with each other and with school-year programs that serve the same students, leading to greater efficiency and better outcomes for youth. These structures also create mechanisms for monitoring and maintaining quality of programs through evaluation and professional development.
5. Expand the knowledge base
The research community continues to explore effective strategies and best practices for many aspects of summer learning opportunities, including summer school, youth employment, nutrition programs, enrichment programs, and more. The field continues to explore significant questions around program quality, access to programs, and program outcomes, determining “best fit” approaches for different kinds of students and communities. Better data on how youth spend their summer will help inform equity implications of summer investments. This expanding knowledge base is critical to ensuring smart investments in activities that make a real difference in the lives of youth.