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SAIL grants awarded for summer programs

For 2018, Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) partners have awarded $956,500 to 44 summer programs in Jefferson, Blount, Dallas, Hale, Madison, Marengo, Monroe, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Walker and Wilcox counties.

Started in 2012 as a partnership of Alabama funders, SAIL is committed to preventing learning loss and improving student achievement one summer at a time.

Over 1,900 children participated in SAIL’s 2017 programs which follow a “school within a camp” model that aims to benefit the whole child, providing academic programming, physical activity, healthful meals, enrichment programming, and an emphasis on character development. Over 2,100 students are expected to participate in SAIL programs this summer.

To date, SAIL has invested more than $4.7 million and has seen significant progress, especially for children from low-income families. On average, low-income students lose two to three months in reading aptitude and two months of math skills each summer, while their higher-income peers make slight gains. These are cumulative losses that result in an academic achievement gap of 2.5 to 3 years by 5th grade. By ninth grade, this gap widens to almost 6 years and as a result, these youths are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.1

A summer program, intentionally focused on a strong academic component, can begin to close that learning gap. Mature SAIL programs typically record gains of 2-3 months in reading and 2-3 months in math over the summer as compared to the losses expected for children who do not participate in summer learning programs. Rather than losing ground, these SAIL students made academic advances and are better prepared when they return to school in the fall.

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.2 Children who qualify for free and reduced lunches at their schools also lose access to food over the summer. Parents also consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, April 28 issue of the Demopolis Times.)