National Summer Learning Association Recognizes Four Exemplary Summer Programs Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth

September 2, 2020 • Filed under Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Contacts: Talon Sachs: 410-983-9029,
Laura Johnson | 410-300-6468,

National Summer Learning Association Recognizes Four Exemplary Summer Programs Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth

Programs in California, Florida, Maryland, and New York honored as models for the nation

BALTIMORE (September 2, 2020)—The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has named four exceptional summer programs the winners of two coveted national awards: the 2020 New York Life Foundation’s Excellence in Summer Learning Award and the inaugural Climate Change Award.

Out of nearly 350 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.

Each of the Excellence in Summer Learning award-winning programs will receive a $10,000 donation, courtesy of the New York Life Foundation. This is the inaugural year for the Climate Change Award. Its recipient also receives $10,000 and every award-winner will be recognized in a virtual awards celebration held in November 2020.

“The New York Life Foundation congratulates the winners of the 2020 Excellence in Summer Learning Awards. This summer has been a challenging one like no other and these exceptional programs stepped up in extraordinary ways. They delivered critical services and innovative summer programming to support learning and to keep young people connected and engaged,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer at the New York Life Foundation. “These organizations serve as a model for how to leverage the power of summer programs even in the midst of a global pandemic.”

The 2020 New York Life Foundation Excellence in Summer Learning Award winners are:

Camp EDMO® Northern California, Sacramento Region and San Francisco Bay Area

Camp EDMO’s organizational mission is to make equitable, high-quality STEAM & SEL programs accessible to all communities in order to cultivate curious, courageous, and kind humans everywhere. This summer program believes the world needs more curious, courageous, and kind humans. Camp EDMO® takes a holistic view of the kids and communities it serves while fostering a spirit of fun, creativity, and individuality that allows all campers to actively engage in design thinking and hands-on learning opportunities.

Learning is not limited to kids who attend the program. The personal development of staff is equally important. Everyone within the organization, from the executive team to the field team, focuses on developing the same SEL Skills, Mindsets, and Character Traits that make up “The EDMO Method®”. The program also creates opportunities for staff and kids to practice the 6 EDMO “RECIPE” Skills of Responsibility, Empathy, Collaboration, Initiative, Problem Solving, Emotion Management.

ANYTOWN® Clearwater, Florida

This summer program provides a safe space where high school-aged students gain education and training on how to interrupt prejudice and move toward a community free from all forms of discrimination. By allowing youth to engage in safe cross-cultural interactions with shared power, ANYTOWN® promotes empathy that mitigates systemic prejudicial attitudes learned from individual and collective environments.

ANYTOWN® is a highly interactive residential program that uses a relationship-first approach to build trust with youth. Counselors are encouraged to model

vulnerability and are trained to facilitate dialogue where teens feel comfortable in sharing their experiences. The program is youth-centric and youth-led. This approach fosters the development of youth-adult partnerships that are not typical of a traditional learning model that uses an adult to youth teaching approach.

Young Audiences of Maryland, Inc. (YA) – Summer Arts & Learning AcademyBaltimore, Maryland

YA’s Summer Arts & Learning Academy provides Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPSS) elementary students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a summer learning from the best teachers and teaching artists Maryland has to offer. In partnership with BCPSS, the Academy operates a free, full-day, five-week program that focuses on arts-integrated literacy and math instruction. Students are encouraged to collaborate and reflect by learning from and with each other at every step of the creative process.

Students are encouraged to collaborate and reflect by learning from and with each other at every step of the creative process. Learning within the academy is not just limited to the students. Staff at YA learn about, honor, and leverage the cultural knowledge, experiences, and frames of reference of their students and community to make learning more relevant and effective for all.

This year’s inaugural Climate Change Award winner brings learning to life for middle school girls through STEM activities designed to engage them in caring for and advocating for the environment.

CityParks Green GirlsNew York, New York

Since 2020, CityParks Green Girls has provided a five-week summer program that allows for unique explorations in parks — from urban forests and rivers to coastal marshes and beaches — for young women living in underserved neighborhoods in NYC. CityParks Green Girls’ focus on STEM learning, environmental science, and justice issue fosters an understanding of the impact of climate change on the city’s waterways and urban forests.

CityParks Green Girls also offers a safe space for young women to share their social and academic challenges, celebrate their successes, build social support systems, and discuss topics like mental health, bullying, healthy relationships and lifestyles, gender bias, and more — all while changing the perception that STEM studies or careers are inaccessible to them because of their socioeconomic background or gender identity.

“This year’s winners are exemplary models of equitable, high-quality summer learning programs that help close the opportunity gap that can manifest at birth,” said Aaron Philip Dworkin, chief executive officer of 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 19, 2020. Visit for more details on submission criteria and deadlines.

About the National Summer Learning Association

The National Summer Learning Association is the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement and opportunity gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA has experts and a network of partners who can identify high-quality local programs to meet the needs of any learner, provide information on summer program practice and policies, offer tips for families and share the national context of summer’s essential role in education. For more information, visit