Detroit Summer Learning Connection Creates Clearinghouse For Summer Youth Programs

Bored Detroit youth should have an easier time finding something to do this summer thanks to a new initiative launched Thursday morning. The Detroit Summer Learning Connection is an effort to promote summertime educational activities by teaching parents about the advantages of these experiences, assisting program providers and acting as a central clearinghouse for summer youth programming.

The effort is being sponsored by The Youth Connection, a local nonprofit, and the National Summer Learning Association, which is helping to fund the project.

The Youth Connection expects between 150 and 200 summer programs -- everything from 3D Architectural Design With Legos to the Summer Dreams Music Camp to chess at the DIA to the Detroit Lions Youth Football Camp -- to join the initiative by the time the school year ends in June. Programming is divided on the project's website into "low cost" and "no cost."

The goal is to fight "summer slump," the name given to the decrease in educational opportunities that youth experience when the school year ends.

Jeffrey Griffith, The Youth Connection's communication director, said this trend affects all kids, but noted the achievement gap is much more pronounced for young people from lower-income families.

"Lower-income kids seem to to lose a lot more [in the summer months] than middle-class or upper-class kids due to a lack of opportunities," he said. "They tend not to got camp, not to visit the library, the museum or even go to baseball during the summer months."

Duke Psychology professor Harris Cooper conducted a meta-analysis compiling the results of summer learning studies in the early 1990s and found that students from poorer families declined in their reading and spelling skills during the summer months, while middle-class students tended to retain these abilities. All students experienced a decrease in math skills.

Although the Summer Learning Connection's programs are available to all K-12 Detroit students, the program is focusing its attention on the Osborn neighborhood in northwest Detroit, where participation in summer programs tends to be quite low.

The initiative will also offer training to local providers by sharing plans and wisdom from some of the best summer programs around the country, helping put those lessons to use in Detroit.

For more information visit the Detroit Summer Learning Connection.

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