November 23, 2021
Issue No. 40
Photo credit: ANYTOWN®, CAMP EDMO®, and Canoemobile (Excellence in Summer Learning Award-Winning Programs)
“The need for summer learning has never been more critical and the opportunity has never been richer.”
Aaron P. Dworkin, CEO, National Summer Learning Association
The words in Alicia Keys’ song ring so true: “You're the engine that makes all things go. And you're always in disguise, my hero.”
In this season of Thanksgiving, words can hardly express NSLA’s heartfelt gratitude to all of our summer learning champions. THANK YOU for being the engine that fuels the dreams, passions, joy and growth for students everywhere – in school and out of school. 

Because of YOU, NSLA’s 2021 Summer Changes Everythingnational conference in Washington, D.C. was a resounding success – an energizing and impactful experience for the 500+ out of school time “heroes” that joined us from around the country. (See all of the highlights here including plenary sessions with Dr. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education and Margaret Brennan of CBS News’ Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan and others panels featuring education pioneers and leaders such as Geoffrey Canada, Lisa Hamilton, Karen Pittman and so many others).

The energy was electric, the stories inspiring, and the work from coast to coast critical in harnessing the power of summer for every learner and leader to grow and thrive beyond this pandemic. 

We truly believe that delivering high quality summer and afterschool experiences for every vulnerable young person is America’s solvable challenge, and so we march on with optimism, urgency and a fierce commitment to serving the needs of the whole learner…every summer, every year. View NSLA CEO, Aaron Dworkin’s State of Summer Learning Address here.
In gratitude and appreciation,
Aaron P. Dworkin, CEO
Brodrick Clarke, VP, Programs and Systems Quality
Leslie Gabay-Swanston, Director of Programs and System Quality
Laura Johnson, VP, Communications
Christi Rokicki, Director of Development
Ally Talcott, NSLA Legislative Counsel
Summer Changes Everything National Conference. NSLA Board, Staff and Special Guests: Dr. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education and Margaret Brennan, CBS News’ Face the Nation
Summer Changes Everything™ Plenary Session Highlights
November 8, Education Town Hall: The State of Education and Summer Learning in America

With an historic $30 billion of federal funds being allocated to summer and out-of-school-time learning over the next three years, Karen Pittman, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow at the Forum for Youth Investment and Ellie Mitchell, Director of the Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network, delved into the emerging roadmap to recover, recharge and rebuild a more just and world class education system.

The plenary session was followed by an incredible student performance by CenterStage Academy for the Arts.
November 9, Opening Plenary: Leaning into Leadership, Lessons Learned and the Light of Covid
These past two summers have been summers like no other but many lessons and yes, bright spots, partnerships and public awareness about the power of summer emerged from the pandemic. The national conference opened with a healing reflection and a special new book reading of: I Wish Wish for You, by author, artist and art therapist, Sandra Magsamen followed by a welcome message from Becky Pringle, President of the National Education Association and an inspiring panel discussion moderated by Jon Fortt, co-anchor of CNBC’s TechCheck.
November 9: Seizing This Watershed Moment in Education
National awareness regarding the importance of summer learning, and its inextricable link to the school year has risen significantly during the pandemic. In NSLA’s national conference “fireside chat,” Margaret Brennan of CBS News’ Face the Nation and Dr. Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, explored what the country must do to collectively reimagine the education system in America in the midst of residual COVID 19 realities.
Check out the feature story on CBS News.
November 10, Closing Plenary: The Future of Equity Centric Philanthropy and Systemic Transformation, moderated by Fatima Shama, Head of Diversity and Inclusion - Americas, Bloomberg LP
"Everyone wants to open up the schools thinking things are going to be fine. No they're not...the kids weren't fine when everything before COVID was happening. Why would we think they're going to be fine now?"

President, National Board
Harlem Children’s Zone
2021 Summer Learning Award Winners
Congratulations to the 2021 Summer Learning Award Winners presented by the New York Life Foundation!

  • The Dance Institute of Washington
  • America SCORES Los Angeles
  • Fab Youth Philly's Play Captain Initiative
  • Memphis Public Libraries' Explore Memphis
Is a Summer Learning Award in Your Future? Apply Today!
Since 2005, NSLA and New York Life Foundation have presented the Excellence in Summer Learning Awards to exceptional summer programs that keep underserved children and youth safe, healthy and learning during the critical summer months.
This year, NSLA is also pleased to announce the inaugural Summer STEAM Award, presented by Big Brain Academy™: Brain vs. Brain for the Nintendo Switch™.
Applicants for these awards demonstrate strong outcomes in helping students grow their passions and cement skills learned during the school year through creative curricula, unique programming, and effective family engagement strategies.
A World of Summer Wishes Campaign. 
Share Your Wishes for Our Children!
Share your wishes for every kid. every summer.

Join Author Sandra Magsamen's World of Wishes Campaign by finishing this sentence: "I wish..." and record a short video or draw a picture of a wish that matters for summer joy - both for kids and adults.
Email your videos and pictures to by January 15, 2022 before the launch of her new book, "I Wish Wish for You."
New Summer Learning Report from
The Wallace Foundation and RAND Corporation
Summer is a period of opportunity and concern when it comes to children and youth. However, a new report from the RAND Corporation commissioned by The Wallace Foundation shows that collaboration among community stakeholders can help identify and prioritize high-quality summer programming.

The report, which focuses on the experiences of four cities, demonstrates that building successful summer networks requires a shared vision, strong leadership, coordinated action, funding for sustainability, and diagnostic data. The progress made and lessons learned in Boston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. can serve as a roadmap for communities across the country.
Summer Learning Week 2022 Has Been Announced!
National Summer Learning Week is a celebration dedicated to elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe, and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school ready to succeed in the year. National Summer Learning Week is returning July 11-15, 2022!

Stay tuned. More details to come soon!
Help More Kids Discover the Joy of Summer Learning
Donate today to ensure every child, regardless of background and zip code, learns and thrives every summer. When you give to NSLA, you help expand quality summer experiences (virtual or hybrid) for our most vulnerable students.
A Special Thank You
NSLA thanks our 2021 Summer Changes Everything™ event producer, LaJoy Plans, for their incredible efforts in making our national conference a success.

LaJoy Plans, based in Washington, D.C., is an event planning firm curating custom events for mission-focused organizations and individuals. LaJoy Plans has been recognized as one of the Top 500 Event Planners in the United States by Biz Bash magazine.
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