Access to ongoing educational opportunities, particularly during the summer months, is essential a young person's academic and social development.  When schools close for the summer many children struggle to access educational opportunities , as well as basic needs such as healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.

According to the National Summer Learning Association :

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievemen t, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities . As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007).
  • Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break (Von Hippel et al, 2007).

Though many community schools are able to stay open during the summer months to provide children with access to these critical supports, many lack the funding to do so.  When summer school is not an option, it's important that Resource Coordinators provide families with information about other summer learning opportunities that exist in their communities.

The following list, compiled for the Federation's Common Core Corps program sponsored by The Boeing Company, provides information about summer learning opportunities for young people in both elementary and high school.  Below are examples of the Digital Badge projects which take place in conjuction with many Chicago organizations as a part of the Chicago City of Learning initiative.  Though these are Chicago opportunities, we encourage Resource Coordinators in other communities to consider compiling a similar list of resources in your community and sharing it with young people and their families.

Elementary Grade Learning Opportunities
High School Learning Opportunities
Chicago Public Library Opportunties

Elementary Grade Learning Opportunities
The Chicago Pre-College Science & Engineering Program (K-3)
In the Little Civil Engineer program, students will begin to conceptualize what engineers do in their profession. Students will earn their badges through learning various science skills and participating in an array of science projects. In order for kindergarten students to gain a basic understanding of the engineering field, students will participate in a fun four week program.

Quilting in the Americas
Student will learn about textile designs. Through constructing textile art, they will learn how to develop artistic skills and how to create a project from start to finish.

Students will take part in a 5 week program that combines morning curriculum-based academics taught by certified teachers partnered with teacher's assistants to establish a 22:2 classroom ratio so that instruction is differentiated and allows for skill-building and customized learning.  The afternoon enrichment modules include a variety of options such as music, science, art, environment, dance, culinary arts, math games, etc. All scholars will do a community service project, visit a college, enjoy visits from inspiring speakers & mentors, and have Fun Friday learning trips around Chicago.

Adventures in Creative Writing offers field trips experiences where students develop their writing skills in meaningful and creative ways. Students write and read as a whole group, in small groups, and as individuals, working with writing coaches. They read sample work aloud, discuss it as a group, and write their own prose or poetry.

High School Learning Opportunities
One Summer Chicago
One Summer Chicago brings together government institutions, community-basedorganizations and companies to offer over 22,000 employment and internship opportunities to youth and young adults.

Teens learn how to get involved in the political process through civic action. Students will develop leadership and professional skills, critical thinking about issues of importance, conducting research and developing policy recommendations, and work on issues connected to nutrition and health.  They will learn how city government works and how to use social media to take action on community issues

Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF)
Participants will use state of the art software to design urban spaces and urban dwellings. They will use critical thinking skills to engage in the design process and work collaboratively to solve complex problems.

The Anti-Cruelty Society
Explore various topics and learn how clinical science is used to diagnosis and treat injury and disease in animals. Students attend seminars one Saturday a month at which they explore various topics and learn how clinical science is used in diagnosis and treatment of injury and disease in animals

Poetry Foundation
Participants will meet once a week for three weeks to read, discuss, and respond to contemporary works of poetry. Campers will have the opportunity to explore the Foundation's library and create their own work in response to what they find there.

Sweet Water Aquapons
Students will learn how to create a healthy habitat for plants to thrive and grow in an aquaponics system which is a food production system that combines raising aquatic animals with cultivating plants in water.

From Free Spirit Media (FSM)
Free Spirit Media introduces students to best practices in journalistic reporting, research, and live news. FSM News youth participants produce news packages, short documentaries, PSAs, and news casts. Students will develop a variety of skills, including writing, reporting, producing, directing, on-camera talent, control room and camera operations, and editing. After developing journalism fundamentals, those students can join our video production journalism programs in the fall.

Chicago Public Library
The Chicago Public Library is host to many programs. Here is a list of some the learning experiences offered. Visit your local library or to learn more the digital badge programs.

CNC Miller Badge Program : This program helps students to develop skills in the area of making things in the digital and physical worlds. Students will develop a basic understanding of CNC Milling and recognizes the ability to use Shapeoko or other CNC milling machine equipment. It is earned by demonstrating competency with the machine through program participation and use of equipment.

Vinyl Cutter Badge : The VINYL CUTTER badge represents an understanding of vinyl cutting and recognizes the ability to use and maintain vinyl cutting equipment. It is earned by demonstrating competency in vinyl cutting through program participation and use of equipment. This Technology badge is part of the 2013 Chicago Summer of Learning initiative.

3D Maker: Students can become certified on the Chicago Public Library 3D Printer. The 3D MAKER badge represents an understanding of 3D printing and recognizes the ability to use 3D printing equipment like the Makerbot Replicator. The badge is earned through program participation and demonstrated use of equipment as certified by a Librarian.

Robotics : Students will learn the basic concepts of coding as they interact with Finch the Robot to create programs to direct the robot to do various functions, such as move, make noises, light up and even draw. The robots are housed at six CPL locations: Austin-Irving Branch, Back of the Yards Branch, Harold Washington Library Center-YOU media, Sulzer Regional Library, Woodson Regional Library and Wrightwood-Ashburn Branch.

James Dyson Foundation: The James Dyson Foundation Engineering Workshop Series challenges students to think like an engineer, by building a cardboard prototype with tape, cardboard, glue and bits of Dyson machines to solve frustrations in their everyday life.

Download this list as a PDF .

More Common Core resources can be found here .
This program is made possible by
Federation for Community Schools • 125 S. Wacker Drive • 14th Floor • Chicago • IL 60606 • 312.424.6814