SAIL (Summer Adventures in Learning) Will Celebrate the Importance of Summer Learning in Birmingham and the Black Belt Region
Event Marking National Summer Learning Day on July 14, 2016 Will Be One of Hundreds Across the Nation Aimed at Keeping Kids Learning, Healthy and Safe this Summer
Birmingham, AL – SAIL (Summer Adventures in Learning), in partnership with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), will highlight the importance of summer learning opportunities at programs funded by the collaborative. On July 14, summer learning programs in the Birmingham area and the Black Belt Region associated with the SAIL Collaborative, a partnership of 11 funders, will celebrate National Summer Learning Day. The purpose of the celebration is to highlight the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer.
This summer, the SAIL Collaborative provided grants totaling more than $862,000 to 36 schools and non-profits in Alabama, with an aim of maintaining and reinforcing some of the state’s most effective summer education programs. National Summer Learning Day events in Alabama will coincide with over 300 events across the country.
National studies have shown that many students lose an alarming amount of educational progress over summer vacation, and typically return to school one to three months behind where they were at the end of the previous school year [citation]. Furthermore, data show that summer learning loss accounts for nearly two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap in reading [citation]. However, research has suggested that the effects of participation in a summer learning program can benefit children for at least two years afterwards [citation]. Local experience in Birmingham shows that as programs gain experience, participants can expect average gains of two to four months of progress in reading and math during a five to six-week program, making a significant positive difference for these children.
Over the past four years, the SAIL Collaborative or SAIL (Summer Adventures in Learning), a partnership of funders hosted by the Birmingham Education Foundation, has created a network of high quality summer learning programs for local, low-income youth. The funders of this partnership committed to using a standardized application process for nonprofit organizations seeking to receive grant support to enhance or add consistent academic components to summer youth programs. “We were definitely pleased to see that these summer learning programs are closing the learning gap for low-income children,” said Jim Wooten, board chairman of the partnership. “SAIL is a unique collaboration of funders, program hosts, educational services providers and other organizations with an interest in education. The funders write checks, but we do much more, and all the SAIL partners collaborate to strengthen one another and to give our children the opportunity for a better life.”
According to Carol Butler, member of the SAIL board and executive director of the Mike and Gillian Goodrich Foundation, “We began working two years ago with summer learning programs such as Sawyerville Day Camp and Higher Achievement Summer School. This year we are collaborating with the Black Belt Community Foundation to expand those opportunities by adding four new program hosts in Dallas, Monroe, and Wilcox counties.”
SAIL programs follow a “school within a camp” model, which aims to benefit the whole child, providing academic programming (with a high teacher to student ratio), physical activity, healthful meals, enrichment programming, and an emphasis on character development. Programs use standardized pre- and post-assessments to measure academic progress for all students. Data from these tests are analyzed by PARCA (Public Affairs Council of Alabama). Mature programs typically record gains of 2-3 months in reading and 2-3 months in math over the summer (4-6 week sessions), as compared to the 2-3 month losses expected for children who do not participate.