In the initial weeks of July, I visited several partners in United Way Suncoast’s Summer Care Program in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. I had the unique opportunity to witness firsthand the incredible impact of the initiative.
Working with the program’s Bridge Books, the students completed the suggested pages with minimal assistance, displaying genuine happiness and excitement. They learned about responsibility through the lessons in the book. The connection with their mentors made them feel emotionally supported.
Evidence Of Summer Care Success
It all signaled the success of Summer Care. Now, we possess concrete data showcasing that, yet again, Summer Care has triumphed over the Summer Slide for thousands of children in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
- United Way Suncoast allocated $450,000 to support 14 partner programs, enabling the provision of 658 scholarships for participation in 25 summer camp programs.
- UWS-supported camps received 2,218 bridge books, resulting in an impressive 88% of students maintaining or improving their academic abilities, as evidenced by pre/post assessments.
- Students dedicated a combined total of 23,920 hours engaged with Bridge Books and an extra 6,816 hours receiving tutoring assistance.
- Tutors assisted a total of 185 children throughout the summer. Impressively, 87% of students showed an improvement in their literacy skills based on pre/post assessments, while an outstanding 97% maintained or progressed in their skills over the summer.
- More than 1,600 students actively engaged in the Reading with the Rays summer reading program. Remarkably, 75% of these students successfully accomplished 24 hours of reading and received two tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays game.
- More than 1,700 students benefited from an augmented supply of nutritious meals through their participation in UWS-supported summer care sites.
- Financial education resources were accessed by 422 parents or guardians, aiding them in enhancing their financial literacy.
With Summer Care, United Way Suncoast adopts a multifaceted approach to improve school readiness and mitigate summer learning loss. This encompasses granting scholarships for exceptional summer camp programs, and prioritizing literacy engagement and interactive learning for pre-K and elementary students. Additionally, we stand as advocates for ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) families, striving to provide them with resources that facilitate financial stability.
The Impact Of Summer Bridge Books
Having the opportunity to shadow Nicole Brown, Director of Education at United Way Suncoast, and visit three Summer Care sites in July was an immensely enjoyable experience. Not only did I get to interact with the children, which reminded me of when I worked as a nanny in college, but I also got to witness the true impact of how the Bridge Books progressively made a positive impact on the kids’ academic success through the summer months.
“Summer is a wonderful time for children to not only have fun but to also grow in their learning,” Nicole Brown said. “Helping students avoid summer learning loss, and to make summer learning gains instead, is amazing. I have fond memories of summer growing up and I’m glad we can provide these special camp experiences for so many children.”
Gratitude For Dedicated Partners
United Way Suncoast truly appreciates the unwavering dedication of all our partners in ensuring the Summer Care program creates a positive impact on the lives of every child during the summer months. Those partners were:
- After-School All Stars
- Artz 4 Life Academy
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay
- Florida Institute for Community Studies (FICS)
- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast
- Girls Inc. of Pinellas
- Hillsborough County Public Schools
- Learning Empowered, Inc.
- Metropolitan Ministries, Inc.
- RCMA Childcare Development Centers
- Start With Me, Inc.
- Sunrise Children’s Services, Inc.
- Tampa Metropolitan YMCA
- The Shirley Proctor Puller Foundation
For more than a dozen years, the Summer Care program at United Way Suncoast has made a significant difference by enhancing literacy among thousands of students in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The dedication of our community partners in providing ongoing support and resources for educational progress beyond the academic year empowers children and holds the promise of a brighter future for our communities. It all highlights the value of literacy and the importance a positive influence can contribute to a child’s personal growth and development. If you would like to learn more about United Way Suncoast’s Summer Care Program and all it offers, please click here.