Through the support of an AmeriCorps grant awarded to Grinnell College, the Grinnell Education Partnership places a cohort of AmeriCorps Members at SLICK (Summer Learning is Cool for Kids), a summer school program hosted by the Grinnell-Newburg School District. In 2019, more than 90 percent of the students who completed the SLICK program improved reading skills over the summer. This contrasts with 2015, when 75 percent of Grinnell's rising third graders lost reading skills over the summer.
The Story Behind the Story
In 2015–2016 to stem summer learning loss, the first "Summer Learning Taskforce" coordinated by an AmeriCorps Summer Learning Task Force Coordinator along with school representatives and other community members created a new wrap-around program for the district's existing summer school program to better meet the needs of the kids and families. The expanded program now extends throughout the summer, offers start/end times the same as during the school year, provides free transportation, breakfast, snacks, and lunch for all participants, and a remarkable 1:3 adult/child ratio. Since that first initiative, every other community summer program (library, daycare, hospital, and college art gallery) has begun leveraging AmeriCorps members to expand offerings and infuse literacy into programming. Because of the Partnership, families now have literacy enrichment options available 5 days/week during the summer and attendance is quickly accelerating and spreading to attendees from outside the rural community.