3 Ways United Way Fought the Summer Slide & Prepared Children for School

School is back in session. This year, many have said that the summer flew by. At United Way, we couldn't agree more but that's because we were extra busy committing ourselves to providing children with ways to prevent the summer learning loss -- the loss of academic skills or knowledge over the summer months -- and preparing young children for school. 

Thanks to donations and grants,* United Way was able to connect children and youth to the resources they needed for academic success during out of school time. Through structured sets of activities implemented outside regular school hours, on weekends, or during summer and holiday break, participating children and youth can thrive in safe and supportive environments. 

This summer, United Way led and participated in events providing children those safe, structured activities to continue the learning. 

1. Hosted a Summer STEAM Camp 

In conjunction with Anthony ISD Child Nutrition’s summer feeding camp, United Way hosted a 5-day STEAM Camp in early July for children 4 to 11 years old. More than 100 students from the county’s outlying area participated in the camp. Students called on their creative problem-solving skills to complete interactive group projects as part of an all-encompassing and rigorous curriculum. When asked in our evaluation, what did you learn during STEAM Camp, one student wrote: “to never give up.”

2. Built Children's Personal Libraries 

As part of our Grade Level Reading Initiative, United Way is building children’s libraries by distributing books all year long. This summer, distributions included partnerships with El Paso County Parks & Recreation, El Paso Chihuahuas and Anthony ISD. Of the total 5,381 books handed out during the 19 books distributions between January and July, more than 1,800 were given between June and July 2018. 

3. Helped Distribute Bus Passes to Children & Youth 

In its fourth year, the United Way and Sun Metro partner program, Kids on the Go! distributed bus passes to youth (6-18 years old with an accompanying adult) who were enrolled in an educational summer program. This community partnership works to increase the participation of youth in out of school time activities by alleviating the possible transportation barrier. This past year, between June and August, participating youth used the passes a total of 7,606 times. Totals for this year are expected to exceed last year's and will be announced in September. 

*Funding for this year's Summer STEAM Camp was generously supported through a grant from Union Pacific. Funding for United Way's Grade Level Reading Intiative, which includes the Book Distribution Program, is partially funded by Wells Fargo.