Research, Evidence & Practice Professional Summer Learning Community

Working Together for Greater Impact

This is an unprecedented time for summer learning. Summer programs are receiving robust federal funding support that recognizes their contribution to the educational and social-emotional needs of children and youth. Summer programs are receiving national attention as part of a solution to the learning losses, mental health concerns, and the need for joy among students following the pandemic.

This recognition also brings new challenges to demonstrate the value of summer learning programs, leverage existing evidence about effective practices, build new evidence to scale, and sustain the investment of resources in summer.

The National Summer Learning Association’s Research, Evidence & Practice Professional Summer Learning Community PLC is designed as a cross-sector learning opportunity for program leaders, researchers, policymakers and funders. Together we will work to strengthen and sustain high-quality summer learning programs by aligning the research priorities of policymakers and funders with the realities of collecting and using data in programs.

This PLC provides a forum for summer leaders, policymakers, researchers, and funders to together explore questions including:

  • What evidence already exists about effective summer programming, and how do program leaders use that evidence to deliver high-quality learning and enrichment opportunities?
  • What challenges do summer program leaders face in accessing and applying the existing research base?
  • What are the key information needs and questions facing policymakers as they make the case for sustaining summer investments?
    • What are the practical challenges, and solutions, to answering these questions?
    • What are the respective roles of program leaders, researchers, and funders, in building the evidence base for summer?

The PLC will:

  • Offer scaffolded sessions that combine peer learning and expert guests to create a community for learning focused both using existing evidence and contributing to the new evidence base.
  • Share best practices, personal experiences, and case studies for knowledge, professional renewal, and growth
  • Hold quarterly training meetings and one in-person all day retreat at NSLA’s annual conference in Washington DC

Who Should Join the Research & Evidence PLC?

Summer program leaders, researchers, policymakers and funders.


Scaffolded Summer Sessions

Summer 2022 Learning Goals

May 25: 12-1:30 EST (virtual)

What are the learning goals for Summer 2022? What are the questions programs, policymakers, funders, and researchers each hope to answer, and how? What information is needed from Summer 2022 to scale and sustain investments in summer for the future? Registration Link

Applying Evidence-Based Practices

June 29: 12-1:30 EST (virtual)

What do we already know about effective summer learning programs? What existing research are summer learning programs leveraging to design and deliver programs in Summer 2022?

Right-Sizing Measurement

September 28: 12-1:30 ET(virtual)

What practical challenges and concerns do summer program leaders have about assessing and communicating success of their program? What is the role of researchers, funders, and policymakers in designing and communicating expectations for data collection and reporting for individual programs vs. the summer learning field?

Using Research and Evaluation in Planning for the Future

October 24: (half day, in person) at the NSLA Annual Conference in Washington DC; we are working on the possibility of supporting attendance for regular PLC members.

What did we learn from Summer 2022? How can these lessons be applied to planning and decisions related to policy, resources, and program design? What questions remain unanswered? Let’s reflect and set a learning agenda for future summers.

Download Overview Sheet

Join Our PLC Today!

PLC Team Leader

Christina Russell, NSLA Field Consultant

Senior Managing Director, Policy Studies Associates

Email Christina at Research@summerlearning.org to learn how to join the PLC