Summer learning loss doesn't have to happen. We're partnering to turn this phenomenon around.

As the school year winds down, many teachers, parents, caregivers and students worry about losing academic ground over the summer. It has been well-documented that students, particularly those from low-income families, can lose academic progress over the summer. This phenomenon, known as “summer learning loss” is a major driver of the achievement gap between low income children and their more affluent peers. At the Foundation, we are determined to bridge this gap using our unique grantmaking resources to ensure every student has the support necessary to achieve his or her potential – that’s why we’ve created our Early Childhood Initiative.

Our Early Childhood Initiative aims to create the community conditions we need to see that all our children, not just those materially well off, have what they need to succeed. We aim to address these conditions through ensuring access to high quality care, supporting families in their roles as children’s teachers, coaches and protectors, and addressing summer learning loss.

Specifically with summer learning loss, the Foundation has partnered with United Way of Central Massachusetts and several other local organizations on the Worcester Summer Literacy Initiative, to increase literacy curriculum at summer programs. Led by Family Service of Central MA, the program provides support to the YWCA of Central MA, Guild of St. Agnes, Rainbow Child Development, Boys and Girls Club of Worcester, Community Builders at Plumley Village, YMCA of Central MA, Worcester Comprehensive Education and Care and also works in partnership with Recreation Worcester.

Originally designed by a consortium of Massachusetts United Ways (Central MA, Massachusetts Bay and Pioneer Valley), the program consistently achieves outstanding results, with approximately 75% of participating children maintaining or actually gaining skill (look here for an example). The Foundation joined the program four summers ago, and has doubled its capacity.

The case for summer learning only grows more each year, as does the need to ensure a level playing field for all of Worcester’s youth. As part of our Early Childhood Initiative, our efforts will continue through community engagement as well as designing a pilot project to bring existing resources together to better serve children.

We hope everyone in Worcester has a fantastic and productive summer!