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.
Following a successful test of the concept during 2018, Summer Spark moved from a landing page on United Way’s website to its own brand and online platform at SummerSparkSEM.org for 2019 with a focus on improved user experience.
With 300+ summer programs listed, parents and caregivers can search for programs by location, cost, and the child's grade and interests, among other criteria. Additionally, the website provides information and resources to help bolster a child’s academic and social skills development and address learning loss, also known as “summer slide.”