'Big Lift Inspiring Summers' will help low-income children stay on track in San Mateo County

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To combat what educators call “summer learning loss” – the phenomenon in which many school-age children lose some of the skills they gained during the school year – SVCF and its partners in The Big Lift initiative recently marked the implementation of a new program to help more young children have enriching, fun experiences over the summer, increasing the chances that they’ll make great progress during the school year.   

This year, thanks to The Big Lift's Inspiring Summers program, 800 low-income children across San Mateo County will experience a summer of learning, literacy and fun. The summer programs will help students stay on track by addressing the gaps and barriers that make it difficult for them to succeed. The program is being offered in our first round of Big Lift grantee communities, in partnership with Cabrillo Unified, Jefferson Elementary, La Honda-Pescadero Unified and South San Francisco Unified school districts. In 2017, the program will expand to our second round of communities - Ravenswood, Redwood City and San Bruno Park

By 2018, we hope to serve 2,000 children through the Inspiring Summers program. 

On July 11 at Thomas Edison Elementary School in Daly City, about 75 Big Lift supporters and participants – including parents of many of the Inspiring Summers “scholars,” as they are called – gathered at Thomas Edison Elementary School in Daly City to hear about the program and visit some Inspiring Summers classrooms. 

Carine Risley, library services manager for the San Mateo County Libraries, attended the kick-off festivities that day and had this to say:

"My day at Thomas Edison ended with seeing all the children be honored by their local librarian for their summer learning challenge triumphs, and it was a moment full of hope and happiness (like so many this summer), a moment to hang onto – all the kids excitedly identified themselves as future college attendees; they all couldn’t speak enough about the books they’ve loved reading this summer, and their joy and interest in learning was both palpable and vibrant. I am excited for a future that includes their leadership." 

The event also received coverage both in the San Jose Mercury News and in the Half Moon Bay Review.

About the Big Lift Inspiring Summers program

The Inspiring Summers program is necessary because in San Mateo County – an area of great wealth in the heart of Silicon Valley – only 50 percent of children can read proficiently by third grade. Among Latino, African-American and Pacific Islander children, that number drops to just 27 percent who can read proficiently by third grade. Part of this can be explained by unequal access to summer learning. Low-income kids lose an average of two months in reading achievement over the summer when compared to their middle-income peers. By the end of fifth grade, these kids are nearly three grades behind in reading, making them less likely to graduate from high school and enter college. For children to have a strong chance of success in life, their early literacy skills really count – even as early as preschool. 

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The Inspiring Summers program is designed not only to end summer learning loss, but to provide what children from prosperous families get: exposure to new ideas and experiences in the context of comprehensive help on fundamentals, such as reading. 

To accomplish this, The Big Lift has partnered with BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), San Mateo County Libraries, Bay Area Discovery Museum and Headstand.org to offer enriching, evidence-based learning opportunities for the summers between preschool and third grade. The full-day, five-week program offers literacy support in the mornings and experiential learning in the afternoons. Hands-on projects engage kids with science, art, technology and math. 

BELL and San Mateo County Libraries were selected through a Request for Proposals managed by Silicon Valley Community Foundation on behalf of The Big Lift. Funding is made available through San Mateo County Measure A tax dollars, a Social Innovation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and Google.org.

Learn more about The Big Lift

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