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August 2011

Summer Saved, Again

Middle school boys show off the garden they grew from seedlings as part of their summer camp program at the Children's Aid Society's wooded campus on Staten Island.

There is no finer moment than when a community is galvanized by adversity and shows deep concern and support for their fellow New Yorkers.

In 2010, City budget cuts threatened to eliminate 31 eight-week academic summer programs for middle school students in poor neighborhoods. But, with $100,000 and leadership from The Trust, the generosity of other foundations and donors, and the cooperation of the City, the programs were saved and the kids were able to enjoy a mentally stimulating summer.

Losing these programs would have had a domino effect on the education and subsequent lives of more than 2,300 students.  A recent study shows that two-thirds of the achievement gap between affluent and poor youth is directly related to the dearth of summer learning opportunities in poor communities. Roderick Jenkins, chairman of the Youth Funders Network and Trust program officer, says “These programs keep kids engaged at a critical developmental stage, and keep them competitive with more affluent youth, whose learning is often continued in the summer on family vacations and at camps. If kids can excel in middle school they are more likely to succeed in high school and beyond.”

In 2011, despite looming public spending cuts to other youth services, the Department of Youth and Community Development worked with the Summer Matters Fund on a plan to maintain and improve these crucial programs through this successful public/private partnership.  A $125,000 grant from The Trust, along with City money and support from the funders listed below, is helping more than 5,000 youngsters have an enriching summer. And while the longevity of these summer programs rests with the City, the private funds pooled through the Summer Matters Fund are a testament to the modest private contributions to move government to do the right thing.

Foundations contributing to the Summer Matters Fund are: the Altman Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Blue Ridge Foundation New York, Booth Ferris Foundation, Department of Youth and Community Development, Deutsche Bank America’s Foundation, MetLife Foundation, The New York Community Trust, New York Life Foundation, and Pinkerton Foundation

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