Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guide to Securing Funding for Summer Learning

With support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has released Moving Summer Learning Forward: A Strategic Roadmap for Funding in Tough Times, a guide on how to obtain funding for meaningful academic programming during the summer. NSLA is a network center for summer learning program providers and stakeholders that provides tools and resources to improve summer program quality, garner support and increase youth access and participation.

According to Moving Summer Learning Forward, most students lose two months of math skills each summer, and low-income children generally lose another two to three months in reading skills. Recently, research has shown that high-quality summer programs that include individualized instruction, parent engagement and small class sizes not only stop summer learning loss, but increase student achievement.

Despite their importance in closing the achievement gap and supporting student success, funding these kinds of programs can be difficult for school districts and community organizations. This guide include a comprehensive description of relevant federal, state and local funding streams, as well as case studies showcasing various ways summer programs have been successfully funded.

In recent years in Oakland, school district leadership has made summer learning for low-income and academically-behind students a priority. The support of school district leadership has made it possible to blend ESEA Title I funding from the district and individual school sites in order to support the district’s summer learning initiative. This funding has been leveraged to access other funding resources for summer learning, with 23% of the program’s $2.7 million budget coming from private grants. In 2012, the initiative included 17 different programs across 50 school sites serving about 6,500 students from pre-K to young adult.

NSLA recommends several key strategies for accessing federal funds for summer learning:

  • Understand the landscape and breadth of federal programs;
  • Plan early to align timing for awards and budget cycles;
  • Constantly work to build partnerships for sustainability;
  • Collect, analyze, and share outcome data; and
  • Publicize programs and their benefits to communities. 

Federal funding sources highlighted in the guide include the Educational and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Waiver Flexibility, Promise Neighborhoods, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Community Development Block Grant Program, AmeriCorps, the Workforce Investment Act, the Summer Food Service Program and the Summer of Innovation Initiative. Several state and local funding sources are also described.

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