City Spotlight Louisville

In support of Mayor Greg Fischer’s efforts to create an accountability framework for Louisville’s education and workforce (“cradle through career”) system,  the city has put forth a number of programs to keep students academically engaged during the summer.

On June 4th, influential community leaders from Louisville, KY, gathered at the KFC Yum! Center in an effort to energize students about summer learning opportunities.  The “Journey 14/15” event brought together Mayor Fischer, Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens, 2013 NCAA National Champion Peyton Siva and others to encourage more than 1,800 students to reach for their dreams. The students participated in a goal-setting session where they were asked to list their goals for next school year and establish plans of action to achieve these goals.  The students committed to work to accomplish these goals over the summer through their involvement with Every 1 Learns. Every 1 Learns is an out-of-school time learning program that extends learning time for students outside of the classroom and into engaging instructional and cultural opportunities available in Louisville.

“Our goal in assembling this array of speakers is that these young women and men will see that there are many positive ways that they can spend their summers to ensure that they stay on track to meet their goals,” said Mayor Fischer. “Whether they engage in sports, community service, a summer job, or other activities, we hope that they use this time to continue learning and developing skills that will benefit them in the future.”

The City of Louisville, Jefferson County Public Schools, and Metro United Way (MUW) collaborated to produce a directory of 331 summer programs, along with information on the hours of operation and cost to participate, if any.  While summer directories had been produced in the past, this listing was amazingly comprehensive – and was linked to MUW’s citywide 211 number, making the information available by phone, on-line and through a text application called GetConnected.

Free Cultural Passes

The mayor also has ensured that every student who lives in Louisville, regardless of their involvement with Every 1 Learns, is able to participate in culturally enriching experiences. Children and students, ages 0 through college, have the opportunity to visit some of Louisville’s greatest cultural organizations for free this summer through the creation of the “Cultural Pass for Children.”

The pass was an idea that developed from Fischer’s Vision Louisville initiative, in which Louisville residents decided how they wanted Louisville to “look, feel, and flow” over the next 25 years. The pass, which grew out of a collaboration between the Metro Government and cultural partners to address the importance of arts education in Louisville, provides free admission to one child/student to attractions as diverse as the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft to the Kentucky Derby Museum to Yew Dell Gardens. The free passes are available at all Louisville Free Public Libraries or Metro Parks Community Centers.  

It incentivizes summer learning by rewarding children who have visited at least eight different institutions with a chance to win a grand prize: A family package of tickets to the Lion King Broadway musical, coming to Louisville in March 2015. Tickets were donated by Broadway Across America. Students also have a chance to win seats in Mayor Fischer's suite at Louisville Slugger Field for one game. “We know that children who are exposed to the arts and cultural events do better in school — and better in life,” Fischer said. “This pass is a great way for parents to take their children to our city’s top attractions all for free — and a perfect way to combat summer learning loss.”

Free Bus Passes

Because transportation can be a barrier to visiting cultural attractions, particularly for out-of-school time (OST) programs operating in low income areas, Louisville’s OST Coordinating Council worked with TARC, the local transit authority, to provide free summer bus passes to low income youth who are engaged in youth development programs over the summer.  The bus passes and cultural passes are distributed through qualifying youth-serving agencies, including the community centers run by Metro Parks.  TARC provided an in-kind match to Wallace Foundation funding of $25,000 to cover 1,500 three-month summer passes, which children and youth may use for unlimited bus travel.

Free Summer Meals

Additionally, Louisville received $1 million in funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).  This grant will allow the city to make the important and necessary improvements at all eligible CDBG community centers. Improvements include interior renovations and exterior updates.  These community centers are fundamental to students’ OST learning experiences. Another $1 million will go towards programming costs for the 2015 fiscal year. Funding for programming covers all related costs of both extending community center hours of operation to accommodate teen-focused programs, as well as all equipment, supplies, staffing, marketing and other items needed to manage and produce enhanced schedules and programs.  A new addition, Dare to Care/Kids Cafés at eight locations will provide more than 1,200 meals per day through the Summer Meal Program.

The city’s investment in youth development hopes to engage, educate and spark interest in the array of learning opportunities the city has to offer.