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Fun in the Sun
What is Fun in the Sun?
Since 1997, United Way of Santa Barbara County has provided Fun in the Sun (FITS), a national award-winning summer learning collaborative (involving 63 service delivery partners, 19 funding partners, and over 500 volunteers) designed to: 1) improve academic, social, and behavioral skills in financially and academically at-risk children (ages 7-18) and parents, and 2) address the long-term effects of summer learning loss and the achievement gap on participants, their families, and the community.
During the seven-hour daily, seven week summer session, FITS presents an integrated series of planned educational, artistic, relational, and recreational activities that strengthen learning skills and give children the sense of connectedness, life skills, and self-respect needed to produce long-term behavioral and academic improvements.
FITS is designed for participants willing to make a multi-summer commitment, and offers a daily emphasis on reading and writing. Afternoon enrichment opportunities include activities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), service learning, and field trips throughout the summer. In addition to receiving lunch and snacks and taking part in daily physical activity, young people take home bags of fresh fruit and vegetables for the weekend, along with clothing and school supplies. Parents also receive specialized curriculum through weekly Parent Education workshops.
What are Fun in the Sun's results?
In 2013, 97 percent of participants showed gains of +2.05 reading grade levels, according to pre and post assessments. FITS's results have been so extraordinary that in 2012, FITS was named winner of the 2012 National Excellence in Summer Learning Award by the National Summer Learning Association, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University and leading research body on summer learning loss and its effect on the achievement gap.
Why Fun in the Sun?
Because client parents spend much of their time working (on average, 2.2 jobs each), their children are often unsupervised during the summer, exposed to behavioral risks and “summer learning loss” of up to three months in prior learning achievements each summer, as documented by researchers and educators. Indeed, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation have more than 15 years of data to show that, due to its cumulative effect, “by ninth grade, summer learning loss can be blamed for roughly two-thirds of the achievement gap separating income groups” (TIME Magazine, August 2, 2010).
FITS provides students and their families with unique and engaging learning experiences to reduce and reverse summer learning loss and narrow the achievement gap between lower-income students and their middle/upper-income peers.