When you think of kids in the summertime, what comes to mind? Running through the sprinklers? Having fun at the playground, maybe going down the…slide?
What’s summer slide?
It’s called summer slide, the unfortunate reality that kids face in the summertime when they fall at huge risk for learning loss and for hunger. It’s a risk that is much graver for children in low-income families and preventing it is one of our highest priorities right now.
It can be tempting to assume that all children are put at equal disadvantage for “brain-drain” during the summer. But research shows that just isn’t the case. In fact, low-income children suffer significantly more than middle-class children, losing more than two months in reading achievement, while their middle-class peers make slight gains. This achievement gap quickly adds up, leaving low-income youth less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.
I bet hunger also doesn’t spring to mind when you imagine the summertime, but for 21.5 million kids, it unfortunately does. That’s the number of kids who participated in the free or reduced-price National School Lunch Program in 2014. Unfortunately, fewer than 2.7 million participated daily in the Summer Food Service Program the same year. So what happens to the rest?
That’s where we all come in.
We’ve got a big problem. Millions of kids aren’t eating healthy food or reading at all in the summer, and consequently they are falling behind. We have to do something about this, and the good news is that we already are.
Here are some of the ways we’re working to end summer slide:
• We’re working to "Silence the Growl" in communities like Atlanta and Dallas where United Way is getting meals to kids in families that fall into the summer meal gap. There are also great programs like Meet Up & Eat Up in Southeastern Michigan and others across the world powered by volunteers and generous donors.
• Across the country and world we’re organizing food drives and employee volunteer events at food banks to make sure kids and families get healthy food to learn and grow. Many of those events are happening now for Day of Action and will continue throughout the year.
• We’re hosting book drives, literacy kit activities and Born Learning Trails in communities across the country. You can also check out our Day of Action center for updates there. Working with caring people just like you across the country, we're reading to kids and mentoring youth during the summertime to help them keep their learning skills sharp.
Help a kid near you.
Why not volunteer where you live and make today your own Day of Action? It starts with something as simple as books in hand and bellies full of food. You have the power to change a young kid's life. Together, let’s turn summer slide into summer success.