How Local Leaders Can Strengthen Summer Learning

Whether you are a municipal leader thinking of ways to solve city challenges or looking to support existing youth programs, look no further.

NLC’s partners at the Wallace Foundation have put together a Summer Learning Toolkit that local leaders can share with program providers to develop and strengthen high-quality summer learning programs.

Cities play a vital role in supporting summer learning programs that ensure young people are safe, ready for college and career, and prepared to navigate local workforce needs.

Cities can help ensure local summer programs deliver a high-quality curriculum and activities

High-quality programs can embed a blend of academics with enrichment opportunities that expose youth to careers and build skills in STEM, business, culinary arts, performance, the outdoors and more.

Cities can use the Summer Learning Toolkit to assess whether their local summer programs are offering a relevant curriculum.

By partnering with the business community and discussing what they look for in new young hires, cities can also ensure these programs teach the skills that youth need to succeed in the local workforce.

Cities can help local programs recruit participants

As a former youth practitioner, I remember the planning process all too well – summer calendar, budget sheets, curriculum planning – yet, the process that was always the most daunting was youth recruitment. We were excited to develop a strong and engaging summer learning experience for youth but worried that we would fall short in our recruitment efforts – often missing the most vulnerable youth.

Effective recruitment requires thoughtful strategic planning to ensure that programs reach children and youth who need them the most.

The Wallace Foundation’s Summer Learning Recruitment Guide lays out a framework of eight keys to successful recruitment with ready-to-use templates that even the busiest city staff, school or community-based provider can tailor to use right away.

Cities can offer professional development to program staff

The quality and effectiveness of summer programs largely rest on the work of people who run them – program staff, teachers, and volunteers. Often, these individuals are public school teachers on summer break, high school, and college students, as well as other devoted youth practitioners.

Professional development is critical in building the skills that youth workers need to connect and engage with youth from all backgrounds. From learning how to track program attendance to restorative practice, training can strengthen summer program experience and staff. When planning starts early, cities can make key investments in staff training to ensure that they fulfill the promise of a high-quality summer program and give youth what they deserve.

The Wallace Foundation’s Staffing & Professional Development tools highlight vital resources to consider when recruiting and employing for summer learning programs.

As the summer quickly approaches, programs across the country are gearing up to recruit and welcome youth. Share this blog and these resources with your Parks and Recreation staff and with the local summer program leaders across your communities. They will thank you for it.

Don’t forget to visit those programs this summer, see the kids in action, and celebrate their efforts during National Summer Learning Week July 8- 13, 2019.

For more information about afterschool and summer learning check out the Wallace Knowledge Center and our work at NLC about Education & Expanded Learning.

About the Author: Gislene Tasayco is the senior associate for NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families Education and Expanded Learning team.