In early June of this year, The Community Foundation of Sarasota County awarded toa $90,000 grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties to support the Great Futures Academy Summer Program; an intense summer learning initiative designed to address the “summer slide” - a phenomenon where young people traditionally experience academic learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities over the summer months. Through this program, Club members receive thorough academic instruction with a certified teacher and a youth development professional through group exercises, hands-on learning experiences, and a variety of rich literacy materials that encourage the development of grade-level reading skills.
The program is open to all kids ages 6 through 12 and features a comprehensive slate of activities, including daily education, experiential activities, field trips, art, physical fitness activities, technology instruction, career exploration, and more. In the morning sessions, the youth engage in educational curricula and focus on improving their reading skills in small groups with a tutor. Each afternoon, the youth participate in a variety of activities such as art, technology, swimming, educational field trips, prevention programs, and physical fitness. Club members are also fed a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snack or meal each day of service.
“We are grateful for our longstanding partnership with Community Foundation of Sarasota County and their commitment to empowering youth to excel in the classroom, adopt healthy lifestyle habits, and build leadership skills in a positive place with trusted professionals,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. “The Great Futures Academy provides a vital tool for academic success and we are just one of many community partners who are actively addressing learning loss in a coordinated effort requiring a visionary commitment.”
For the past two summers, the program, in partnership with the school district, had 19 school teachers each summer working directly with Club members to prevent learning loss and help them start the upcoming school year on track. During these past two summers, more than 1200 Club members passed through with 86% making academic gains and 14% maintaining. This means that not a single child fell behind during the summer months.
"Because of the Great Futures Academy and the support of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, our Club members, and their families are on track for success both inside and outside the classroom," said Sadlo.