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fewer child hospitalizations as a result of better access to school meals during the summer


of the students that participated in United Way's Summer Learning Collaborative now think reading is more fun

2 months

of learning loss for low-income children who don't get academic enrichment during the summer

This year United Way is focusing on summer learning and nutrition. Summer is a critical time for children’s academic and physical well-being. But in too many communities, kids are falling behind in school and going hungry during the summer months.

Kids who don’t get academic enrichment during the summer forget what they learned during the school year, experiencing what’s known as the “summer slide.” Children from low-wage families slide a lot further. They start school with a two-month lag in math and a 3-month delay in reading. By middle school, they’ve lost two full years of learning. Middle-income kids don’t suffer the slide as much, because their families can afford summer camps and academic enrichments, and their homes are usually filled with books. In fact, sometimes their reading skills even increases over the summer. It all adds up, making it very hard for low-income youth to catch up. Experts say more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.

Boosting summer learning – and working with schools, summer programs, employers and other nonprofits – is part of United Way’s strategy to help kids succeed in school, work and life. 

United Way’s Summer Learning Collaborative in Boston is turning summer time into learning time for over 3,000 elementary schoolers every year. Almost 90% of those kids are starting school without any summer learning loss; 82% think reading is more fun.

United Way’s work in summer nutrition is part of our larger community impact strategy to help build stronger, healthier communities where everyone can thrive.

For example, United Way of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut is hosting a block party for Day of Action to connect Hartford, CT families to summer food resources, and to books so kids can keep reading all summer.  And United Way Toronto is working with partners to bring fresh and affordable foods to low-income neighborhoods through the Mobile Good Food Market, a retrofitted bus stocked with fresh and affordable fruit and vegetables. 

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