Summer and Extended Learning Time

Summer and Expanded Learning

The Wallace Foundation seeks to better understand the impact of high-quality summer learning programs on disadvantaged children, as well as how to enrich and expand the school day in ways that benefit students.
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​Summer and Expanded Learning Strategy Chart

The Problem

The conventional six-hour, 180-day school year may not provide enough time for many poor and minority students in urban public schools to receive the education they deserve. In addition, the well-documented learning loss that poor children experience over summer contributes significantly to the achievement gap between them and children with more advantages in life.

How We Are Tackling It

Launched in 2010, the Summer and Expanded Learning initiative supports efforts to engage children in more hours of learning both over the summer and during the school year (in what is commonly called "extended learning time"). A central part of our work is to study these programs, measure their effects on student achievement, and make the findings public. Our summer and expanded learning efforts are guided by three common strategies:

  • Inform mayors, school district leaders, parents and others about how more hours for learning could improve student achievement.
  • Strengthen the few well-established nonprofits with strong summer or extended learning programs so they can serve more children.
  • Help selected city school districts introduce and test more-learning-time programs on a wide scale, and then evaluate the results.

Wallace is working in Boston; Cincinnati; Dallas; Duval County, Florida; Pittsburgh; and Rochester on a four-year summer learning "research and demonstration" project in which low-performing students about to enter the fourth grade will receive reading, writing and math instruction as well as enrichment activities like music and sports. The project is designed to combine high-quality learning for children with a much-needed rigorous test of what works and what doesn't in these summer programs.

Three summer learning programs – BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), Higher Achievement, and Horizons National – have received support from Wallace, while Citizen Schools and Communities in SchoolsThe After-School Corporation, and Say Yes to Education have received support for their extended learning efforts. 

Some of the Research Informing Our Work

In Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning, researchers from RAND find evidence that summer programs can help ease summer learning loss, identify obstacles to providing these programs, analyze their costs, and offer recommendations for putting them into place. The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs explores the range of costs of sound summer and after-school programs.

Our Grantees

Launched in 2010, this newest of Wallace’s major initiatives seeks to help school districts and nonprofits develop summer and expanded learning programs for poor city children. Wallace funding of about $25 million has included support for: the strengthening and expansion of exemplary summer learning and expanded learning organizations, and initial research for the field.