The Urban Libraries Council (U.L.C.), as the lead agency, has received a $250,000 2014 National Leadership Grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (I.M.L.S.) to partner with the National Summer Learning Association (N.S.L.A.), the Washington, D.C. office of the Chicago-based U.L.C. announced today, Tuesday, September 23, 2014. Accelerate Summer: A Partnership for Learning is a fifteen-month-long initiative (October 1, 2014-December 31, 2015) “designed to identify and share effective models, inspire innovation and build national awareness of public libraries as leaders in summer learning. This work will increase understanding across library and school leaders on partnering successfully for summer, as well as the importance and value for communities of summer learning programs in public libraries.”
“ULC is thrilled to partner with NSLA on this important initiative,” stated U.L.C. President and C.E.O. Susan Benton. “Our organizations share a deep commitment to strengthening the value of libraries and schools in our communities. Together, we can increase the national awareness of the importance of the public library in education, especially in the critical summer months.”
The library-school link was an important determination for the award. “It is essential that local school systems and public libraries adopt strategies to align summer learning activities with school-year goals, said Susan H. Hildreth, Director of the I.M.L.S. “The Accelerate Summer project will create a Framework for School-Library Partnerships that will help libraries create effective summer learning experiences that keep children and youth learning all summer long.”
The U.L.S. stated, “The Accelerate Summer project builds on research that summer learning loss can significantly set a student back in learning achievement – even to the point of losing mastery of previously gained knowledge. This is particularly true of low-income students.”
“This collaboration between NSLA and ULC, supported by IMLS, is an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen connections between schools and libraries during the critical summer months,” stated N.S.L.A. C.E.O. Sarah Pitcock. “With ULC, we’re working with some of the most dynamic and beloved institutions in our country to turn summer from a time of risk and loss into a time for growth and innovation.”
“Research has shown that without meaningful learning opportunities, the summer months are a time of risk for students, and can have negative consequences for their school achievement, healthy development and safety,” The U.L.C. stated. “Participation in high-quality, summer learning programs can curb these losses, and positively impact key education goals such as achieving grade-level, reading benchmarks. Summer learning is a national movement providing high-quality, opportunities to as many children and youth as possible, especially those who need it the most.”
Today, an increasing number of libraries recognize the need to build on their long-standing success with summer reading to expand the scope of summer programs. Piloting high-quality, summer learning programs is an exciting and important transition for libraries.
This grant continues to build on the work of ULC to showcase the library as leading learning across a lifetime. In the past three years, ULC also has been the lead agency on another IMLS funded program. The Learning Labs in Libraries Initiative is a partnership with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and funded by IMLS and the MacArthur Foundation.
Founded in 1971, the U.L.C. is a membership organization for public libraries in the U.S.A. and Canada. The U.L.C. states it is “made up of America’s premier public library systems and the organizations that serve them …[and that it] has spent more than 40 years enriching urban communities by strengthening their public libraries. While ULC members primarily represent urban and suburban libraries, lessons from their work are widely used by all libraries. ULC serves as a forum for thought leaders sharing best and next practices resulting from targeted research, education, and emerging trends. Our programs are recognized for creating new frameworks that invigorate public libraries and their communities.”
The N.S.L.A. and U.L.C. state the N.S.L.A. is “the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA recognizes and disseminates what works, offers expertise and support for programs and communities, and advocates for summer learning as a solution for equity and excellence in education. NSLA’s work is driven by the belief that all children and youth deserve high-quality summer learning experiences that will help them succeed in college, career, and life.”