Too many children lose ground over the summer months. Without access to enriching activities available to more affluent peers, research shows that children from low-income families lose as much as three months of reading comprehension skills over the summer.
Starting Strong works to ensure all Portland children from PreK through third grade maintain or improve their reading level over the summer. We do this by focusing on three overarching strategies:
Support community-wide messaging to raise awareness about the importance of summer learning
Support and engage families in reading to and with children over the summer months
Support aligned programs that expand access to books and integrate literacy skills development
Research shows that while gaps in student achievement remain relatively constant during the school year, they widen significantly during the summer. Starting Strong promotes community-wide opportunities that encourage best practices for summer learning such as the National Summer Learning Day.
In 2014, Starting Strong developed a Summer Readers program to supplement summer meals provided at low-income housing sites across the city. This low-barrier, weekly program provides children from birth through adolescence with the opportunity to read with a caring adult during lunch and take a new book home.
Summer 2018, Starting Strong continued to facilitate The Summer Readers Program at North Deering Gardens and Unity Village in Portland with the Portland Rotary Club and United Way of Greater Portland. This summer readers program has a committed group of volunteers as well as a great group of kids who return each time for lunch and a book to either be read to them or they read to the volunteers. The North Deering Gardens Summer Reading series totals were very high this summer. The total amount of readers were 81 in which 70% of the kids returned each time and twenty-six committed Rotarian volunteers. Unity Village, a new site had 10 Summer Readers and with three United Way volunteers.
Starting Strong is the early age component of Portland ConnectED, a community-wide partnership that works to ensure the success of every child from cradle to career.