For children and youth, summer can either be a learning or a liability.
Having access to and participating in a high-quality summer learning experience can dictate if a student starts the school year ready to succeed or whether they’ve fallen behind their peers. The effects of these experiences — or lack thereof — can impact children academically throughout their lives.
The United Way for Southeastern Michigan partnered with the Youth Development Resource Center (YDRC) and EarlyWorks to better understand the state of high-quality summer learning opportunities in the metro Detroit area — and what could be done to ensure more students have access to and participate in quality summer learning programs. Informed by a landscape analysis of summer programs in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, a survey of summer program providers and conversations with parents with school-aged children, we launched the Summer Spark campaign.
Summer Spark is a digital tool to help parents and caregivers find quality summer programs. For the 2018 pilot, we created an interactive, searchable locator based on parent input. Parents and caregivers can search for programs by price, location, and the child's grade and interests, among other criteria. Nearly 200 summer programs from the tri-county area are listed in the Summer Spark locator, with hundreds more expected to be added as the multi-year effort grows.