Group of happy children, all wearing 'Live United' shirts, pose together in a classroom.


High quality summer camps and educational supports for children. Financial education for parents.

Summer, when children are away from school, is a particularly vulnerable time for children’s education. Many children, especially those living in low-income families, lose the equivalent of two months of reading skills during the summer. Over time, this learning loss is compounded so that by the end of elementary school, they may be more than two years behind their peers in reading. Two-thirds 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.

Children who are involved in quality summer programs, have access to books, and are supported with appropriate reading instruction are able to maintain the skills acquired during the school year. That is why providing academic opportunities for low income children is a part of United Way’s innovative Summer Care program.

Summer Care began in 2005 to assist low-income, working families with childcare. The program has evolved over time to its current form — impacting both adult financial stability and youth education goals. Children attend one of our carefully selected summer camps in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties.


  1. To address summer learning loss disparities of low-income children
  2. To provide free, enriching full-time summer camps/childcare during the summer for low-income families
  3. To provide reading support during the summer camps/childcare
  4. To provide financial education to the parents

Every child at the participating summer camps receives a Summer Bridge Activity book. This award-winning curriculum is designed to reinforce basic skills and prepare children for their next school year.

Last summer, in 17 sites across Hillsborough and Pinellas counties,

  • More than 2,000 children received daily academic activities with the Summer Bridge Book curriculum. Across all grades and sites, scores on the pre and post-tests showed that 75% of students maintained or grew their academic skills.
  • 477 scholarships were provided so adults don’t have to choose between quitting their jobs or leaving children with unskilled caregivers or family for summer.
  • All parents/caregivers involved with Summer Care were invited to participate in financial education classes so they can be better prepared to manage finances the following year.
  • Education students from the St. Petersburg College of Education and certified Varying Exceptionality teachers from Hillsborough County provided intensive reading tutoring to 127 children. Of those, 100% had no summer learning loss. On average, participants increased reading ability by 6 months.
Young boy writing in a study book at a recent Summer Care program.
Young girl writing in study materials at Summer Care.


United Way Suncoast brings together people and resources to tackle complex issues and drive sustainable positive change to help our community thrive.

Improve the lives of children, families and
communities today.

Smiling young girl proudly holds a book in a classroom.

Sign up to receive news and updates from United Way Suncoast.