National Summer Learning Association Recognizes Four Exceptional Programs Improving Outcomes for Children

August 7, 2019 • Filed under Press Releases



Laura Johnson National Summer Learning Association | 410-856-1370 x208 |
Talon J. Sachs National Summer Learning Association 410-856-1370 x210 |

Programs in Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts and Maryland honored for high-quality, equitable summer programming

Baltimore, MD, August 07, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has announced four exceptional summer programs the winners of two coveted national awards: the 2019 New York Life Foundation’s Excellence in Summer Learning Award and the inaugural Lands’ End Love Learning Award.

Out of nearly 250 applicants, the winning programs meet the rigorous criteria for this national recognition that includes helping students cement skills learned during the school year, effective family engagement strategies, and inclusive and innovative programming to serve the diverse needs of children and their families.

From Austin to Baltimore, award honorees spanned the country, providing children with high-quality summer experiences such as using national parks to build the literacy skills of ESL (English as a Second Language) students, pre-med internships and developing valuable social-emotional learnings.

Each of the award-winning programs will receive $10,000, courtesy of the New York Life Foundation and Lands’ End. They also will be recognized in a ceremony at the NSLA’s National Conference in Atlanta on October 21 – 23, 2019.

According to the Wallace Foundation, research evidence suggests that summer breaks contribute to income-based achievement and opportunity gaps for children and youth. However, summertime can also be used to provide programs that support an array of goals for children and youth, including improved academic achievement, physical health, mental health, social and emotional well-being, the acquisition of skills, and the development of interests. See Investing in Successful Summer Programs, a Wallace Foundation report of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“We congratulate the winners of the New York Life Foundation’s Excellence in Summer Learning Award. Out-of-School Time programs are critical to providing learning opportunities to help prevent summer learning loss. These award-winning programs exemplify the best in high-quality and innovative programming that help children realize their full potential both academically and socially,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer at New York Life Foundation.

The 2019 New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award winners are:

The Andy Roddick Foundation
, Austin, Texas

This summer program thoughtfully integrates captivating themes across its academic and enrichment activities, like a superhero summer theme overlaying educational lessons on bats and echolocation. The program encourages respectful conversation and learning and conducts deep family engagement activities to keep children learning when they are back home.

ESLAsC Reads Across National Parks
, Columbus, Ohio

This program is rooted in community and stands out for its engagement with ESL learners. The program incorporates inclusive and innovative methods to engage the youth it serves, such as having them pick the theme for the summer and then building contextual learning opportunities centered around the theme. Students build social skills and are introduced to a number of cultural experiences like roller skating for the first time. It helps children see their future potential and is a testament to the possibility of effective summer programming when a community and its schools band together.

MERIT Health Leadership Academy, Baltimore, Maryland

MERIT’s razor-sharp focus of supporting high school students interested in careers in health and its rich partnership with John Hopkins School of Medicine and School of Nursing sets the standard in summer STEM programming. Students in the program work in paid hospital and lab internships, take advanced classes and receive college and career guidance. With its continued nurturing of a diverse group of students, the program stays true to its mission of reducing health disparities by changing the face of health care and making the profession more inclusive and representative.

This year’s inaugural Lands’ End Love Learning Award winner brings learning to life on a spectacular 204-acre island classroom in the Boston Harbor:

Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center
, Boston, Massachusetts

The Summer Connections curriculum for middle schoolers combines hands-on science (such as studying native species and climate change) with the best of Outward Bound’s approach to teamwork and resilience (e.g., when the students work together to climb a 50-foot alpine tower). The island is just one mile from downtown Boston by ferry, yet a world away for city-dwelling students looking to expand their horizons. In order to close opportunity and achievement gaps, lessons from the summer programming inform the island’s year-round partnership with the Boston Public Schools.

“We are thrilled to be supporting the National Summer Learning Association and couldn’t be more pleased that the Lands’ End Love Learning Award honoree is the Thompson Island Outward Bound program in Boston. As a company who prides itself on our commitment to kids and education, we are excited to continue to support families beyond the academic school year,” said Matt Trainor, senior vice president of Brand Creative at Lands’ End.

“This year’s winners are exemplary examples of equitable, high-quality summer learning programs that help close the opportunity gap that can manifest at birth,” said Aaron Philip Dworkin, CEO of the NSLA. “We aim to support and encourage more programs like these, which engage our children, spark their curiosity and provide valuable social-emotional skills to succeed in academics and in life.”

The call for submissions for next year’s list of honorees will open on October 14, 2019. Visit for more details on submission criteria and deadlines.

About the 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 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