The opportunity gap between students from families with low incomes and their wealthier peers is growing every day.
We often think of summer as carefree time off for kids, but summer is an incredibly inequitable time for many young people. Research shows that students residing in under-resourced neighborhoods experience decreased access to high-quality preschool, kindergarten and extracurricular programs – creating fewer opportunities for students of color to build strong academic skills compared to peers in resource-abundant neighborhoods. Sixty-six percent of our students from DC and Maryland enter our program performing below grade level in math and reading – a gap that can widen by 3 months on average due to summer learning loss. This inequity creates deep challenges that impact our students’ futures.
Locally in the greater Washington, DC area, our students are a fraction of the population who could benefit from our year-after-year individualized support and cohort-focused program design. According to the Afterschool Alliance, for every child in an out-of-school-time program in DC, one is waiting to get in. Unfortunately, the high cost of summer programs (and even higher cost for STEM camps) is a cost barrier many families are unable to cross (Wallace Foundation 2021).
The Impact of COVID-19
Our focus on our students’ academic success and social-emotional well-being is more urgent than ever as these challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19 learning loss. As COVID slide data continues to be updated, we know that students averaged 4 months of unfinished learning in reading and 5 months of unfinished learning in math as the 2020-21 school year ended and historically marginalized students had larger declines in math and reading compared to advantaged peers (McKinsey and Co. 2021). In kindergarten and grades 1 and 2, the gaps between Black and Hispanic students and their white counterparts are now greater than they were before the pandemic and, as students get older, the longer it will take for them to catch up without intervention (Amplify 2022).
Horizons Greater Washington enables our students to not only avoid summer slide but achieve summer learning gain, putting them back on top of their academic game when they return to school in September. We do this by removing any barriers to participation in the program by providing…
- Access to dedicated and knowledgeable teachers who help to inspire young minds
- A joyful learning environment full of academic, artistic, and athletic activities that build a love of learning
- Daily round-trip transportation to/from convenient pickup and dropoff locations
- Healthy and nutritious meals are on hand to ensure that our students are fueled for the day
- High-quality supplies and materials are provided to ensure our students can fully participate in our project-based curriculum