Investing in Summer Learning Opportunities
Guest post on behalf of the Greater Atlanta Summer Learning Council
With schools now back in session, it’s not too early to think about quality programs for children when summer rolls around again. Nearly half a million children in greater Atlanta live in communities with low or very low child well-being and lack the basic opportunities and resources needed to thrive. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated gaps in unequal outcomes for children in under-resourced communities due to long-standing inequities in educational opportunities, systemic barriers and significantly fewer opportunities to drivers of economic mobility. Unfortunately, the lack of affordable high-quality summer learning access contributes to these unequal outcomes. According to America After 3PM, 47% of greater Atlanta parents reported having at least one child participate in a summer program, while 52% of greater Atlanta parents reported that they would have liked to enroll their child in a summer program if one were available. Summer presents a unique opportunity to change this trajectory by providing support to youth and their families, especially in underserved communities and ensuring future success.
In December 2020, the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN) convened the Greater Atlanta Summer Learning Council to develop a shared region-wide summer learning agenda, increase and coordinate funding from public and private sources, and ensure that all of greater Atlanta’s young people have access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. The council is comprised of key philanthropic, business, community and civic leaders, as well as school superintendents and summer learning providers. GSAN and the Greater Atlanta Summer Learning Council recently presented, “Investing in Summer Learning Opportunities: Recommendations from the Greater Atlanta Summer Learning Council.“ This report includes recommendations to increase access to and strengthen the quality of greater Atlanta’s summer learning landscape and position greater Atlanta as a leader in summer learning with greater investment and improved infrastructure to combat inequities in youth development outcomes, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read a summary of the report here.
High-quality summer learning programs can close educational and opportunity gaps, support the positive development of the whole child and can be a key strategy to improving child wellbeing. In fact, 93% of Greater Atlanta parents with children in a structured summer experience are overwhelmingly satisfied with it. To ensure that all youth across greater Atlanta have access to high-quality affordable summer learning opportunities, we must work together to implement a region-wide action plan that targets the needs of the community, including youth, families, providers and educators, in order to build capacity, fill gaps and promote equity. Philanthropic, business, civic, community and education leaders must work in partnership to build a sustainable region-wide summer learning system that fulfills the needs of the whole child in order to tackle the long-standing systemic barriers that have hindered the success of children from under-resourced communities and communities of color.
Photo courtesy of the Greater Atlanta Summer Learning Council