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Area summer learning programs looking at new ways to address learning loss

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 5:34 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - After a year of virtual learning, many local summer learning programs are looking to engage back in person, and in new ways to reach certain populations.

“This last year has been really hard for kids especially,” Kevin Delecki, the Cedar Rapids Public Library programming manager, said. “There is a concern definitely about what the last year has really looked like and what this Summer will look like as well.”

The library is boosting funding for its Summer DARE Reading program, which will be hybrid this year.

“We’ll be out at different parks throughout the community every week offering literacy play, technology, and yard games,” Delecki said.

Cleveland, Hayes, and a few other parks are on their summer schedule with a focus on reaching underserved populations.

“We’re finding areas that need us and we’re not expecting them to come to us any longer,” Delecki said.

Maggie Hartzler, the program manager at Tanager Place, said their clients are primarily minority and low-income households. Its new Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program is geared towards combating summer slide and honoring Black contributions.

“Data shows that black and brown kids are behind their white peers, and that is something that existed prior to COVID,” Hartzler said. “The program has really deep roots in the Civil Rights movement from the 1960s. It’s really looking at increasing access to kids literacy, books, characters, and stories of people who look like them.”

It’s a six-week program taking place at McKinley Middle School. It will offer an integrated reading curriculum, as well as access to Camp Tanager, and, as Hartlzer said, addressing the effects on mental health, too.

“Knowing we can kind of give kids a boost and give them kind of that Headstart going into next school year really, we think will help increase mental health for kids who are participating,” Hartzler said.

The program starts in June. People interested in signing up for the program can do so through Tanager Place’s website.

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