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Mayor Walsh announces summer opportunities for over 6,500 Boston School children

July 13, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang to announce that over 6,500 Boston school children have enrolled in 78 summer learning programs in diverse, non-traditional settings around the city as part of the Boston Summer Learning Project, a coordinated public-private effort boosted by nearly $2 million in private funding.

The Mayor also issued a challenge for additional innovative programs to join the Boston Summer Learning Community, setting a goal of enrolling 10,000 school children in 100 summer learning programs over the next two years.

Mayor Walsh made the announcement surrounded by Boston students and nonprofit leaders at the Sportsmen's Tennis and Enrichment Center in Dorchester alongside leaders from the Boston Public Schools and Boston After School & Beyond.

"When we create opportunities for our young people we set them on a pathway to a successful future, and build a stronger city," said Mayor Walsh. "I thank our partners for their support, and urge more summer programs to get involved to support our future."

Unlike traditional summer school programs offered exclusively in school facilities, the Boston Summer Learning Project will immerse youth in new, exciting environments-such as natural preservations, the Harbor Islands, college campuses and workplaces-with an explicit focus on building skills in addition to academic content. Each program is full-day and offers a comprehensive list of enrichment activities to complement more formal academic instruction.

These programs support specific groups of students, including English language learners, recent immigrants, off-track high school students, youth assigned to mandatory summer school and rising 9th graders. Several of these programs are part of national research examining the effects of summer learning in school-year performance and social-emotional development.   

"Research suggests that this rigorous model of summer learning gets results," said BPS Superintendent Chang. "The Summer Learning Project is showing us how to use time and place differently in order to boost the skills necessary for school and college success."

All 78 sites use the same set of measurement tools to assess program quality and student skill development from multiple perspectives. Trained observers and students themselves will evaluate programs on factors such as structure, support and engagement. 

"Summer is a prime time for learning and innovation," said Chris Smith, executive director of Boston After School & Beyond. "Especially when different programs use the same measures to gauge success."

The Boston Summer Learning Project is part of a national study, funded by The Wallace Foundation, on how summer learning affects academic performance and social-emotional development. A recent study from RAND showed that Boston 4th graders attending a voluntary, summer learning program entered school in the fall with a statistically significant advantage in mathematics, compared to their peers who did not attend the program.

Low-income and minority students traditionally have less access to educational summer programming, leaving them behind their more well-off peers once they return to school in the fall. Research has shown this effect is cumulative over years, disproportionately affects low-income youth, and is a major contributor to the achievement gap between low-income and their higher-income peers.

The Boston Summer Learning Project was launched in 2010 by the Boston Public Schools and Boston After School & Beyond, in partnership with the Boston Opportunity Agenda.