Mayor Elorza announces expanded Summer Learning opportunities

Mayor Elorza Announces Expanded Summer Learning Opportunities 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza announced Wednesday that Providence’s Summer of Learning initiative will continue with expanded summer learning opportunities for 2017. Joined by partners from the Providence Public School District (PPSD), Breakthrough Providence, The BELL (Building Education Leaders for Life) Foundation, PASA (Providence After School Alliance), Generation Teach and students to announce this year’s expanded summer learning opportunities for Providence students. 

"In Providence, we're All In for education and that means that we have to take advantage of every opportunity our kids have to learn," said Mayor Jorge Elorza. "This commitment to  increasing summer learning will allow over 850 students to not only keep pace, but to stay ahead.”

In Providence, more than 60% of students suffer summer learning loss in reading and more than 51% in math. Studies show that students from lower-income families are far less likely to have access to summer learning opportunities, leading to greater summer learning loss and lower graduation rates. Students at the greatest risk for summer learning loss can lose up to 2-years of grade-level reading and math ability by the time they reach fifth grade when compared to children from higher-income households.

“As a district, Providence is focused on providing all students with quality educational opportunities throughout the school year,” said Superintendent Christopher Maher. “However, we know that summer learning loss leads to significant gaps in learning. Innovative, high quality models, like those implemented by this group of partners, will be critical to our district’s work for closing opportunity gaps for our students.” 

In the fall of 2015, Mayor Jorge Elorza formed a Summer Learning Task Force comprised of local leaders in education and youth development to craft a strategic and focused response to the challenge of summer learning loss among Providence students. The Task Force appointees highlighted a critical need for alignment of common standards and metrics across summer programs. The City and PPSD utilized the Task Force’s recommendations and research in order to plan this summer’s programming and set clear guidelines to help students achieve academic success and social-emotional growth.

"Breakthrough Providence is celebrating our 25th year of eliminating summer learning loss and promoting positive leadership development for middle school students in Providence,” said Dulari Tahbildar, Executive Director of Breakthrough Providence. “We are grateful to the City and school department for investing in summer learning as a key educational priority and for partnering with us to deliver the highest quality programming our students deserve."

After last year’s successful campaign and summer expo, Mayor Elorza and the Providence Public School District have committed to increasing opportunities for Providence students to engage in year-round learning opportunities. 

“We are excited to see the City increase its investment in summer learning,” said Hillary Salmons, Executive Director of PASA. “Summer is an important time for our students to put the skills they have learned in the classroom to the test through contextualized, real-world experiences. PASA looks forward to continuing to bridge important partnerships between Providence classroom teachers  and community-based educators to build opportunities for students to dive deep and continue learning throughout the summer months.”

Through a competitive application process, the City and PPSD chose four high-quality and exciting programs open to Providence Public School students for free this summer. Contracts will be going before the Providence School Board for final approval in April. All summer learning programs are at least five weeks in length, five days a week, and full-day programs. Combining exciting academic and enrichment programming these partners have created an immersive summer experience for students that mitigate summer learning loss. 

"BELL is thankful for the opportunity to bring its evidence-based summer learning program to Providence,” said Lauren Gilbert, President & Chief Strategy Officer at BELL. “In partnership with the City of Providence and Providence Schools, BELL will work collaboratively to transform hundreds of Providence youth into scholars - children who return to school excited to learn, prepared to excel, and motivated to succeed."

The following programs will be available to PPSD students at no-cost through this initiative (pending final budget approval by the Council and School Board): 

•    Breakthrough Providence will serve 65 students entering grades 7-8 in their Summerbridge program. This is for students who are enrolled in their year round programming starting in sixth grade. The program will hire 4 PPSD high school students as teaching fellows for the program, and additional high school students as volunteer supports.
•    The BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) Foundation BELL's award-winning, 5 week summer learning program will deliver over 150 hours of extended learning for 420 elementary students in Providence. The evidence-based model blends rigorous academics with engaging enrichment activities to help participating scholars make measurable academic gains.
•    The Providence After School Alliance will serve 224 students entering grade 6-8 in the AfterZone Summer STEM Camp. They will also be hiring 10 PPSD high school students to serve as camp counselors.
•    Generation Teach will serve 150 students entering grades 5-8 in the GT STEAM Academy. They will hire 6 PPSD high school students as summer teaching fellows.  

"Generation Teach is honored to partner with the Providence community. Together, we will develop middle-school students as learners and leaders,” said Laura Zahn, Founder & CEO of Generation Teach. “We'll introduce local young people of color to careers in teaching in Providence Public Schools. We'll engage Providence teachers as coaches and leaders. We can't wait to learn and grow with you this summer."

Last year Mayor Jorge Elorza hosted a Summer of Learning Expo which was attended by over 400 Providence residents. This year’s expo will be at Providence Career & Technical Academy (PCTA) on Saturday, April 29, from 10AM-1PM. Students and families interested in signing up for summer learning programming should attend the expo for an opportunity to engage with partners and explore different types of programming. All information about registration for these programs will be hosted on PPSD’s website in the coming weeks, with additional information sent home with students through schools. 

(release from City of Providence)