Recognizing the extra burden on families during the summer, and challenges this can pose for maintaining a safe and vibrant city, local leaders are placing increased focus on expanding summer learning opportunities in their cities.
For some, the summer months may conjure up visions of swimming pools, vacations, and cook-outs. However, the reality for many families is a lot less relaxing. Families often struggle to find affordable summer programs and childcare while school is out, meaning that the summer months often come with increased risk of food insecurity, higher crime rates and a loss of academic skills. National Summer Learning Day on July 14 offers city leaders a number of ways to get involved and amplify their impact.
A recent National League of Cities (NLC) survey on municipal leadership for summer learning found that 46 percent of respondents – which included 320 mayors, elected officials, city offices and program providers from more than 190 cities – ranked summer learning as one of their cities’ important or top priorities. Survey data shows that cities are using summer to address a variety of issues, including literacy and academic achievement, as well as targeting health and wellness through physical activity and summer meals programs. Many cities also reported using the summer months to establish job training and internship programs to assist in workforce development.
In support of National Summer Learning Day, city leaders can issue proclamations, publish op-eds, or host a summer learning day event. For more detailed information, including sample op-eds, see the Mayor’s Summer Learning Playbook by NLC and the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA).
NSLA also has a mapping tool to track Summer Learning Day activities across the country. If your community or program is hosting a Summer Learning Day event put it on the map so that families and the media can find it. A Summer Learning Day event can be a community resource fair, science fair, library or museum visit or even a social media event — anything that celebrates and raises awareness about the importance of learning during the summer months. These events are not limited to July 14 and can take place anytime during the summer!
Not only has the importance of summer learning opportunities seen a groundswell of activity at the local level, but at the federal level as well. This year the White House announced the Summer Opportunity Project, with the goal of elevating the importance of summer by focusing on summer learning opportunities, meal programs and jobs. To learn more, visit the Summer Opportunity Project website and check out the Summer Opportunity Action Kit for concrete ways to tap into the initiative and make this summer the best for cities and towns’ families and children across the country.