Local Initiative Gives $3 Million to ‘High-Quality’ Summer Youth Programs, with $1 Million Coming from Weinberg Foundation

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Students in the Young Audiences Summer Arts Learning Academy in August 2016. Photo via Young Audiences of Maryland/Facebook.

An infusion of money from the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation and 10 other groups and businesses will support 41 “high-quality summer programs” serving youth from Baltimore’s low-income communities following the end of this school year.

The Owings Mills-based Weinberg Foundation is contributing a third of that total, according to a Tuesday announcement. The rest will come from prominent entities like the Abell Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds and Under Armour. (A full list is available here.)

The initiative, called the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative, will support programs aimed at stemming learning loss and keeping kids busy while they’re out of school for summer break.

In a statement, Weinberg Foundation executive vice president and trustee Donn Weinberg said the money will be a “tangible investment in improved academic and life outcomes for thousands of young people in Baltimore City.”

Summer learning loss occurs when students fail to retain knowledge they picked up from the prior school year after receiving little or no instruction during summer break. It often requires teachers to give remedial lessons at the beginning of the following school year, chewing into classroom time for new material.

It’s a common problem for students across the United States, though research has shown it disproportionately affects low-income communities than affluent ones due to a dearth of affordable enrichment programs for the former.

Baltimore City Public Schools partners with local groups to host programs aimed at curbing summer learning loss. One program offered by the arts nonprofit Young Audiences of Maryland pairs teachers with artists in classrooms, offering creative and engaging lessons for participating elementary schoolers. Young Audiences’ program reached 800 students at four elementary schools last summer, and has been expanded to reach 300 more this summer, the group announced this week.

An evaluation by City Schools showed it paid off, with an average 1.8-percent improvement on standardized math test scores from spring to fall for regular attendees — compared to a 2.8-percent drop for their non-attending peers — and mitigated drops in reading test scores for regular participants compared to their non-attending peers.

Young Audiences will be one of 41 organizations to receive funding from the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative. According to the announcement from the Weinberg Foundation, all donating groups offered the same application to organizations seeking money to ease the application process and facilitate “more efficient and impactful funding decisions.”

Each will also be using a uniform method to assess program quality and alignment with their original priorities once the programs have concluded, the Weinberg Foundation said.

This will be the fourth year of summer program financing by the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative. Last year’s efforts reached approximately 12,000 students, according to the Weinberg Foundation.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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