Amid Uncertainty and Hardship, Communities and Families Across the Country Step Up to Save Summer Learning Opportunities for America’s Youth

July 6, 2020 • Filed under Press Releases


July 6, 2020

Laura Johnson

Irene Serrano

Amid Uncertainty and Hardship, Communities and Families Across the Country Step Up to Save Summer Learning Opportunities for America’s Youth

National Summer Learning Week (July 6 – 11) to Highlight the Essential Role of Summer in Combatting Education Inequities and Growing Learning Gaps

BALTIMORE — America’s children and their families continue to face many challenges this summer amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is using their annual awareness and advocacy celebration, National Summer Learning Week (July 6 – 11), to highlight how summer learning and enrichment opportunities are essential to the nation’s recovery and ongoing education reform efforts.

As school districts across the country prepare for the return of students in the fall, many summer programs are adapting in new, virtual and creative ways to ensure children and their families can access quality summer learning opportunities and critical support services to mitigate unfinished learning and to address the growing food insecurities millions of students are facing.

Recent research published by NWEA predicts significant learning loss from COVID-19 school closures — especially in math — with projections indicating students may return in the fall with about 70% of the learning gains in reading, less than 50% of the learning gains in math, and in some grades, nearly a full year behind, as compared with a normal school year. Without critical interventions, this COVID-19-related learning loss combined with the usual summer slide may have a ripple effect for years to come.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the economy struggles, and the racial justice movement grows, the inequities experienced by America’s children in communities of color and other vulnerable communities continue to multiply,” said Aaron Philip Dworkin, CEO of NSLA. “The summer months matter and will require communities to be hyper-collaborative and hyper-creative in finding solutions to in help our most vulnerable students heal, access essential health and nutrition services, and catch up on unfinished learning so all kids can succeed in the school year ahead.”

Each day of NSLA’s National Summer Learning Week focuses on a different summer issue, from literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and the arts to the importance of nutrition and wellness to programs that introduce young people to career possibilities and civic engagement.

National Summer Learning Week also provides opportunities for parents, caregivers and community members to take action to protect funding for summer and afterschool learning programs. A survey conducted in early June 2020 by the National League of Cities (NLC) of more than 1,100 cities, towns and villages from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico found that two-thirds of cities report that they are making cuts to summer-specific programming, including summer youth employment programs, summer camps, municipal pools, and festivals and events.

This points to the urgent need for parents, educators, advocates, business leaders and policymakers to each to take a stand to save and expand summer learning opportunities in communities across the country. Specifically, policymakers must implement legislation that improves the accessibility and availability of summer programs, addresses the unmet demand that families have for quality summer experiences and summer childcare and improves access to critical summer nutrition programs as food insecurity needs rise.

“While summer may look different this year, the need for high-quality summer learning opportunities is more important than ever,” said Dworkin. “In a time when hope and optimism can sometimes feel out of reach, it’s inspiring to see the creative ways educators and advocates are finding ways to help meet the academic and social needs of our nation’s children and families, especially in our most vulnerable communities.”

National Summer Learning Week highlights (see full schedule):

  • Numerous meaningful participation opportunities, like the #SummerMatters social media challenge where families can share memories, photos or other moments capturing the joy of summer learning and fun.
  • Resources to help parents navigate summer like the Summer Stride Tip Sheet and NSLA founder Dr. Matthew Boulay’s new e-book: When Schools Are Closed: Tips to Help Parents Discover the Power of Summer Learning in the Era of Covid-19 — available for free on Amazon from July 6 – 11.
  • Applegate®, the nation’s leading natural and organic meat brand, joins as the official sponsor and host of the Eat Healthy and Grow Strong theme day on July 9 at 3 p.m. ET, a virtual cooking event featuring Applegate chef and food stylist Kate Winslow, author of Onions Etcetera: The Essential Allium Cookbook and former editor at Gourmet magazine.
  • Khan Academy’s live virtual demo of Pixar in a Box and Camp Khan, featuring a presentation by Khan Academy’s Pamela Fox on their free virtual summer camp that and ways students can explore fun learning experiences like Pixar in a Box designed to spark curiosity and creativity this summer.
  • Dax-Devlon Ross, an award-winning investigative journalist who covers social and criminal justice, will moderate a discussion on July 10 at 3 p.m. ET on nonprofit leadership and how we can we think collectively about moving communities forward during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Launch of a summer public service campaign featuring national digital billboards donated by Clear Channel Outdoor and radio PSAs by iHeartRadio.

National Summer Learning Week offers parents, children and program providers free summer learning tools and academic readiness checks. For more information on National Summer Learning Week and opportunities to participate, visit

National Summer Learning Week is supported in part by the following corporate, media and program partners: Afterschool Alliance, Applegate®, Natural and Organic Meats, Association for Library Service to Children, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, Food Research & Action Center, Khan Academy, Learning Heroes, Charles Stuart Mott Foundation, National Center for Afterschool and Summer Enrichment, New York Life Foundation, Scholastic, No Kid Hungry, and The Wallace Foundation.


About the National Summer Learning Association

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement and opportunity gaps by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA recognizes and disseminates what works in summer learning, develops and delivers community capacity-building offerings and convenes and empowers key actors to embrace summer learning as a solution for equity and excellence in education. For more information, visit