|Blog Series - Innovations in |
Expanded Learning Opportunities:
The Community Schools Strategy
See also: Other Blogs in the ELO Blog Series
Special Blog 10: Summer Matters in Oakland
This is a special bonus blog for the Coalition's Blog Series on Expanded Learning Opportunities and Community Schools.
By: Jennifer Peck, Executive Director of Partnership for Children & Youth
Expanded learning programs have proven to be fundamental to providing the social, emotional, and learning supports necessary for children and youth to succeed in school and life – the same essential components of a successful community school approach. Education leaders in Oakland found the research around summer learning loss particularly compelling. As a result, the East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC) – a leading partner at several community school sites and an after school / summer program provider throughout Oakland – and Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) partnered to provide academic and enriching summer programming to thousands of students every summer.
Together, these partners provide programs throughout the summer that focus on science and health, involve organized physical activity, and let children explore new places through regular field trips. Program staff look at the child holistically and calculate physical, emotional and mental growth into the way programs are designed. They work closely with other community partners, including Oakland’s local libraries, the California State Parks, and others to provide new, exciting, and educational opportunities for students.
District leaders found that offering summer learning programs provided a huge support for students, families and entire communities. The programs gave families good options for children during the summer months by providing healthy, nurturing environments that gave children a safe place to play and learn, nutritious meals during program hours, and opportunities to stay physically active and on top of their academics.
The process of building these summer learning partnerships has proven to be an effective exercise in building the types of relationships and coordination necessary in making a community school effort effective and sustainable. OUSD, driven by a district-wide community schools strategy, continues to improve what they offer their students every summer. The district defines goals, sets standards of practice and holds programs and partners to those standards. The district works through its network of community schools partnerships to coordinate resources and push each member to meet the same set of standards and learn from each other. What makes OUSD’s efforts successful is their ability to effectively navigate through sometimes challenging community dynamics, stick to a continuous cycle of improvement and learn from their challenges to make every summer learning opportunity better and better.
OUSD and EBAYC also participate in a statewide effort in California to combat summer learning loss and support the whole child through high-quality summer learning programs. The Summer Matters campaign, coordinated by the Partnership for Children & Youth, is the first-ever statewide campaign to improve summer learning. To date, the campaign has increased the number of students served by summer learning programs and generated momentum and support for summer learning among leaders across the state. Partnership for Children & Youth also provides technical assistance to program providers and schools in working together and service delivery. To learn more, please visit www.summermatters2u.org or www.partnerforchildren.org.
To learn more about community schools and ELO, visit www.communityschools.org/elo