Virtual Press Conference: Harnessing the Power of Summer for America’s Students

May 18, 2020 • Filed under Press Releases

Contact: Irene Serrano

Laura Johnson


Summer Is Not Canceled: Leading Health and Education Experts Share Essential Role of Summer in Closing COVID-19 Learning Gaps and Promoting Social Emotional Well-Being for America’s Students

WASHINGTON — Across the country, summer programs are adapting to ensure students and their families receive quality summer learning opportunities and critical supports and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of working families will soon tackle the difficult task of finding high-quality, safe and affordable summer childcare and enrichment solutions as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to worsen the already existing opportunity gap students from low-income families face. Educators across the country agree that summers matter and “offer opportunities for social and academic growth, but can also put disadvantaged children at risk for worse outcomes,” according to the first cross-sector report, Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth, recently released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS).

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) is co-hosting “When Schools Close…Harnessing the Power of Summer for America’s Students” along with national partners and esteemed health, education, and policy experts. At this virtual event, they will share key insights on the investments, programs, and policies critical to improving conditions for children and families during the summer months. Experts will also address the uncertainty of summer during the COVID-19 reality and opportunities to leverage the summer months to help students safely re-acclimate to schools this fall. Registration is required. Media interview opportunities after the event can be coordinated with Laura Johnson, Vice President of Communications: 410-300-6468 |

May 27, 2020
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET

Moderators: Joseph P. Williams, Senior Editor, U.S. News & World Report and Aaron Philip Dworkin, CEO, National Summer Learning Association.

Opening Remarks by: Karl Alexander, PhD, Johns Hopkins University, John Dewey Professor of Sociology Emeritus, nationally renowned researcher and sociologist who coined the term “summer slide” followed by group discussions on the State of Summer, Reimagining Summer 2020 in a COVID-19 Reality, and Empowering Families and Students


The National Press Club Virtual Press Conference. To register, visit: You can find the live stream of the event on NSLA’s Facebook and Twitter by following #SummerMatters.


  • Why summer matters more than ever in 2020 in stemming combined COVID-19 and summer learning loss and what programs are doing to adapt
  • NAS recommendations aimed at improving availability, access, and equity of summer and out-of-school time programs
  • Policy and federal funding implications for summer and afterschool programs
  • Role of summer internships and youth employment in workforce development and summer safety
  • Free summer meals making a difference
  • Awareness and advocacy to empower families in the summertime


  • American Camp Association: Tom Rosenberg, President & CEO and Laurie Brown, PhD, Director of Research
  • Afterschool Alliance: Erik Peterson, Senior Vice President of Policy
  • Clear Channel Outdoor: Jason King, Senior Vice President
  • Council of Chief State School Officers: Jillian Balow, Wyoming Superintendent and Board of Directors President
  • Boston Afterschool and Beyond: Chris Smith, President and CEO
  • Food Research and Action Center: Clarissa Hayes, Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst
  • Johns Hopkins Medical Institution: Rachel Thornton, M.D., PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics
  • Khan Academy: Dan Tieu, Director of Marketing
  • Learning Heroes: David Park, Senior Vice President, Communications & Strategy
  • National League of Cities: Bela Shah Spooner, Program Director, Education and Expanded Learning Institute for Youth, Education, and Families
  • National Summer Learning Association: Matthew Boulay, PhD, Founder and Board of Directors
  • The Fresh Air Fund: Fatima Shama, Executive Director
  • The Education Trust: Tanji Reed Marshall, PhD, Director, P-12 Practice
  • Engaging Creative Minds: Robin Berlinsky, Executive Director


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