Summer Learning Programs fill an important void in the lives of young people that may otherwise loose access to a number of resources provided by the school during the academic year. First, they address the summer learning loss which helps to prevent students from starting the school year behind. Moreover, they provide a space for innovative learning as summer programs aren’t bound to the same strict set of rules, assessments and testing as the school year. Secondly, they provide food so that students on free and reduced lunches still have access to snacks and meals. Last, they provide a safe space with supervision and access to role models.

Choose an Area of Focus

For your summer program, choose an area of focus for your program. This could include academics, sports/physical activity, arts, social-emotional, or college and career exploration. Summer is also a time that youth can dive more deeply into specialized areas of interest.  Youth can elect into specific “classes” under the umbrella of one large program.

Summer provides a great opportunity to combine areas, for example, you could have a nature photography program that interwines, the physical activity of hiking outside, the artistic activity of photography and the science behind the nature being photographed. Another sample model, youth about to transition from elementary to middle school or middle to high school could attend a summer program at their soon-to-be school that incorporates transitional prep activities along with the other offerings. The ideas are endless!

Speak Up!

Don’t be afraid to be vocal in your support of summer programs. Modern summer programming is relatively new. Parents may just think of summer programming in terms of “summer camp” or remedial summer school. It may require some education and promotion on the benefits of summer programs. One great way is to participate in the Summer Learning Week, which will be held this year on July 8-13, 2019.

Think systematically

When planning your program, think systematically to avoid duplicating services with other summer programs, as well as ensuring there is access across your area. Work in conjunction with other programs. For example, a school-based program, running during the day and early afternoon, could partner with local parks and rec, to transition students to an afternoon-evening program at the parks department.

The National Summer Learning Association's Community Indicators of Effective Summer Learning Systems


  1. Shared Vision and Citywide Coordination
  2. Engaged Leadership
  3. Data Management System
  4. Continuous Quality Improvement
  5. Sustainable Resources
  6. Marketing and Communications

Templates & Samples

Summer Middle Registration Form










Virginia Department of Education: List numerous summer learning resources for all ages and across various subject areas.

National Summer Learning Association is the go-to website for summer programming, with numerous resources including a knowledge center with resources available to download.

Summer Matters: A Community Landscape Report 2017, Greater Richmond and Petersburg: This report from the National Summer Learning Institute and The United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg, provides data on of its summer learning programs in the Greater Richmond and Petersburg area.