Powering Summer Learning Across the Country

This is a guest post by Laura Johnson, vice president of communications for the National Summer Learning Association, and Jason King, senior vice president of corporate communications for Clear Channel Outdoor Americas.

When it comes to summer in America, there are baseball games and barbecues, roller coaster rides and fireflies — and oh yes, the “summer slide.” But there’s nothing fun about this kind of slide. It’s a well-documented phenomenon, familiar to many municipal and education leaders, where students can lose up to three months of progress in reading and math skills learned during the previous school year.

And with back-to-school season on the horizon, nine out of ten teachers can expect to spend at least three weeks re-teaching lessons at the start of the school year, according to a survey by the National Summer Learning Association.

To help raise awareness of the importance of summer learning and the summer slide, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has worked closely over the last two years with NLC, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas (CCO) and iHeartMedia around a national media campaign to advance solutions around keeping all kids learning, safe and healthy during the critical summer months and afterschool hours.

To that end, iHeartMedia, aired public service announcements (PSAs) across its more than 850 radio stations nationwide during the month of Julyfeaturing John Urschel, former guard for the Baltimore Ravens and current doctoral candidate in applied mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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CCO continues a commitment to education through its PSAs running on 1,200 digital billboards across 28 markets in the US — all pointing communities to valuable tips and summer resources available at smartersummers.org or to local summer programs in select markets. Interested readers can also view campaign billboards here and listen to radio PSAs here.

Beyond awareness building, municipal leaders are taking critical leadership on increasing summer opportunities (summer learning, jobs and summer meals) — these essential summer supports generally lack a clear central home or owner in a community but are increasingly important to conversations around equity, safety, college readiness and workforce development.

With oversight of libraries, parks, recreation centers, housing authorities, municipal leaders offer a unique purview to look at a community’s assets holistically and to shepherd more efficient distribution of scarce resources. Public-private partnerships are key and can advance solutions that help children and families make the most summer.

In making the most of summer, the country celebrated NSLA’s National Summer Learning Day on July 12 and CCO-Chicago employees joined NSLA, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) and a legion of community partners to herald in summer learning fun at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library. Hundreds of Chicago children crafted sound sandwiches, waved Summer Learning Day flags and enjoyed a jazz-infused story time featuring the 2016 Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King award-winning book, “Trombone Shorty,” by its acclaimed illustrator and Summer Learning Ambassador, Bryan Collier.

All children departed with a free pack of toys, donated by Hilco Global and a brand new autographed copy of “Trombone Shorty,” donated by Clear Channel Outdoor.  Chicago Public Library was one of seven flagship Summer Learning Day library systems across the country celebrating alongside parks and recreation centers, children’s museums and summer program providers in 45 states — collectively reaching more than half a million children.

What’s particularly special about Chicago and its complementary Summer Learning Day celebration, is the spirit of collaboration and partnership reflected in this one community and increasingly across the country around summer learning. The Chicago Public Library has powerfully woven together unique programming and community partners into a non-traditional library model for stemming summer learning loss, working hand-in-hand with the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry and a host of other cultural, school district, foundation and corporate partners to serve approximately 100,000 children and provide 10,000 summer lunches and to distribute more than 40,000 new books to children across the city this summer alone.

This kind of public-private partnership is just one example of how local communities and municipalities are coming together and with the support of partners like CCO, we can collectively enrich and improve the lives of young people and their families.  Many community members and municipal leaders have turned to Out-of-Home (OOH) media, like billboards, to increase awareness and build support for community services.

And as an NLC corporate partner, CCO regularly works with local communities on issues that range from providing critical information during a natural disaster to promoting an important local cause — like combatting human trafficking or helping our nation’s law enforcement fight violent crime.

NSLA and CCO remain optimistic around the power of partnerships to reverse summer learning loss, keep kids on track between grade levels, and ensure students go back to school each year ready to move forward. We wish you all an exciting page-turning summer!

Laura's Headshot - Cropped.jpgAbout the Authors: Laura Johnson is the vice president of communications at the National Summer Learning Association.





Jason King, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, oversees and executes communications and media strategies for Clear Channel Outdoor’s 38 markets in the U.S., plus over 200 airport advertising contracts operated by Clear Channel Airports.