Kids Read Now, a 501C(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2010 to expand summer learning and eliminate the summer reading slide. Since its creation, this summer reading program has made an impressive impact on the tens of thousands of children that have participated. They have received books that they choose weekly, encouraging them to read by giving them material that interests them. Impacts that large are difficult to hide, and people have been taking notice. The Clinton Global Initiative was one of the first to recognize the outcomes of this program, followed by South by Southwest (SXSW). We are pleased to announce that we have been recognized by another group and have formed a national partnership with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) to spread the program to a broader audience and help even more students become lifelong readers.
The NSLA, also a 501C(3) nonprofit, is no stranger to the achievement gap. They started working with students in Baltimore in 1992, helping disadvantaged students stay motivated to learn. In 2001 they expanded and became the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University, and then the NSLA in 2009. Their mission is “to deliver high-quality summer learning opportunities to our nation’s children and youth that help close the achievement gap and support healthy development.” They collaborate with local programs to make them more efficient and more affordable to the communities they serve. Not only do they work hard at the grassroots level, but they build national awareness of the issue. This effort pushes more resources into school districts to help all students keep pace with their peers. Their focus includes monitoring policies that could impact funds directed to those that cannot afford the loss.
Our NSLA partnership’s goal is to make our program more affordable to school districts that serve rural and urban populations. These two groups see the most challenges when it comes to accessing quality learning opportunities over the summer. In addition to the partnership with the NSLA, Kids Read Now is also working with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation (GKCCF) on a multi-year, 1 million dollar research grant which will further help school districts afford our turnkey program. Our program is also eligible for any Title I funding received from the government. We are always looking for ways to bring the proven, data-driven results of our work to any school district in need. One of our most important partnerships is with the communities that benefit from having children that are passionate about reading and education.
As we see the costs to school districts fall, we witness the number of students helped dramatically increase. In 2017 alone, our dedicated staff distributed over 80,000 books to over 12,000 children in thirty-four school districts. By the time we get to 2019, with the help of the NSLA and GKCCF, we are anticipating serving over four times that number. We have started in three states, and with the help of our partners, are looking forward to expanding and aiding more of our neighbors in the near future. Kids Read Now is honored work with the NSLA to support their goal of building more successful students through summer learning.
A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished the NHL season with a Stanley Cup victory. A week after that, the Cleveland Cavaliers finished the NBA season by breaking a fifty-two year championship drought in Cleveland. Both teams did it in spectacular style, taking their respective series seven games and winning in the closing minutes of the match. You may think that they are just going to relax until the middle of September when training camps for both leagues start.
You would be wrong.
“Then they are going to start preparing for next season.”
The players on each team are certainly going to take a break from their grueling, nine-month seasons. They are going to spend time with their families, head to vacation, sleep in a little, and catch up on the things they missed during the season. Then they are going to start preparing for next season. They are going to spend some time in the gym. They are going to watch games from the last season so they can get better. Then incorporate those needs into practices from the middle part of July to the time they walk into training camp.
Children in school are no different. School is nine months of homework, studying, learning, and testing. Teachers and students look forward to the end of the year for a few weeks of relaxation. The difference is that teachers start looking over lessons, taking some remedial classes, and preparing for school a few weeks into the summer. It is rare for students, especially young students, to do the same thing. There are far too many pools to play in, woods to explore, and television shows to watch even to consider getting children to do some reading. This leads to what many educators and people who study education refer to as the “summer slide”. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has started celebrating Summer Learning Day on July 14th to bring attention to a gap than can affect any student but more pronounced in lower-income students.
“There are far too many pools to play in, woods to explore, and television shows to watch even to consider getting children to do some reading.”
Like athletes resting too much in the off season, students who do not participate in learning can fall behind. It is a critical developmental time for children; third graders that fall behind in reading are four times more likely to drop out. Students who do nothing during the summer can lose up to three months of educational gains. It may not sound like much, but by fifth grade, some students may be two to three grades behind their peers. That is quite a bit to overcome, and they may not have a LeBron to lift them up.
That is why the NSLA encourages everyone to spend time with their child on July 14th for education. The time can be utilized in a variety of ways. You can sit down and read a book together or play educational games. Even a walk in the park or a trip to the store can be an opportunity to learn. If students do not have the support system available to them, reading a good book on that day can help. Especially if it is a book that piques the child’s interest. Developing healthy habits now pay off over the course of a student’s career.
We encourage you to take part in National Summer Learning Day on July 14th. You can see what other communities are doing on social media be following the hashtag #KeepKidsLearning, and learn things you can prepare at http://www.summerlearning.org/. It is a perfect opportunity to sit down and read a book as part of your summer reading goals for Kids Read Now! When school starts in just over a month, you want you students to be in shape and ready to learn as if summer vacation did not exist. Players on the Penguins and the Cavaliers will be heading back to do some work in the next few weeks to get ready for the next season. Ensure the students in your school are spending some time enjoying their summer while reading and getting ready for school to begin!