NSLA conducted a number of focus groups and in-depth interviews in September 2020 with 21 summer learning leaders representing 15 national award-winning summer learning programs. Our goal was to provide qualitative context to complement survey data from the Afterschool Alliance’s report: Preparing for Back to School and Navigating Summer in the Time of COVID-19. NSLA set out to better understand the youth experience during the summer of 2020, lessons learned and ways NSLA can best support the out-of-school time field in the wake of the current events.

Providers made it through the summer, mostly providing virtual programming. While there were definitely silver linings, the summer overall was the type of challenge you don’t want to face more than once in life. A lot of providers’ success was attributed to the unprecedented generosity of stakeholders, above-and-beyond leadership, and tireless commitment of frontline staff. The conflating issues of increasing unemployment, structural racism, and civil unrest were mentioned by most interviewees.

There was no consensus or tangible ideas on how to alleviate these challenges for all young people, but there was a strong acknowledgment that previous stress and trauma are highly exacerbated by the financial insecurity and safety concerns resulting from COVID-19 and by the hyper-focused inequities spotlighted by current social justice movements.

see all

Other Resources on this Topic

Spring Forward Summer Learning Program Quality Assessment Case Study

This brief highlights the findings of a program quality assessment from a collaboration between the... read more

Summer Learning: A Bridge to Student Success and America’s Recovery, a COVID-19 PLAYBOOK

According to the RAND Corporation and Wallace Foundation report, Investing in Successful Summer Programs, summertime... read more

Mizzen by Mott: Powering those who empower kids

Download the app that helps you inspire, engage and spark learning in young people. With... read more

2019 Summer Learning Awards Kick-off Webinar

Each year, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) recognizes the outstanding work done during the... read more

Keep All Kids Healthy and Learning

Now more than ever, communities need your support to expand access to summer and afterschool programs that will help students catch up on unfinished learning and thrive after an extraordinarily challenging school year.

Please consider supporting NSLA’s critical work this holiday season. With your support, we can make a positive difference in the academic, social, and economic realities of children, families, and communities across America. Whether you donate $5, $10, or $25, every little bit helps.