There is an unprecedented sense of urgency, calls to action, and investment of resources from multiple levels of government to increase access to, and expand the role of, summer learning programs. This is very good news for students and families in California, a state that has historically underinvested in summer learning, and this moment represents an opportunity to change this picture now and into the future.

Summer is a time for fun, for exploration, and yes, for learning – but in different ways from the traditional school year. And this summer, more than ever, our highest priority must be on providing safe spaces with caring adults, and learning opportunities grounded in student interests that can re-spark their engagement, foster their recovery, and prepare them for returning to in-person learning in the fall.

This guide does not delve into the “why” of summer learning. Rather, this guide is designed to support local education leaders in jump-starting their summer planning and to offer ideas and resources to help offset the overwhelming sense of urgency felt by us all. This guide draws upon foundational research and best practices for how to design and implement summer learning programs anchored in lessons learned and adaptations emerging from the pandemic.

As you dive into the content and plan your summer program, please keep this in mind: Some communities have an existing summer learning infrastructure to build on and some do not. There are unknowns about facilities and staffing and work to be done to build family trust. What is important is that we join forces with our partners and open our minds to all the creative ways we can support students in the summer months with a focus on relationships, resilience, and recovery.

Partnership for Children & Youth

Partnership For Children and Youth

The Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY) is a statewide intermediary that has been working for over 20 years to expand access to high-quality expanded learning and wellness opportunities for children in under-resourced communities across the state of California. PCY oversaw a seven-year statewide Summer Matters Campaign dedicated to creating and expanding access to high quality summer learning programs for underserved students. This campaign engaged hundreds of diverse schools, districts, community-based organizations, municipal agencies, and county offices of education, and this brain trust remains a resource for California educators.

National Summer Learning Association

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA recognizes and disseminates what works, offers expertise and technical assistance for summer programs and communities, and advocates for summer learning. NSLA has an array of summer models to learn from through the Summer Learning Awards and the New Vision for Summer School, a group of over 50 school districts committed to summer learning that engages more children and youth, boosts academic achievement, and supports teaching and learning throughout the school year.

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