Summer is the most unequal time in America!

Research tells us that ALL students lose ground over the summer months when they are not in school. While middle- and upper-income families can access top-notch enrichment programs, low-income families have few if any equivalent opportunities. So many of the resources available to them during the school year come to an abrupt halt during the summer months.

Thursday, July 12, is National Summer Learning Day, a national advocacy day for keeping kids safe, healthy, and learning every summer. According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), the achievement gap between children from high vs. low- income families is roughly 30 to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier. This “summer slide” is what frequently happens to low-income children during the summer months, putting them further behind higher-income children who have access to summer learning programs.

At Princeton-Blairstown Center we have worked to combat summer learning loss for 110 years. Each summer 600 students, primarily from Trenton and Newark, travel to our 264-acre campus in Blairstown for our award-winning, week-long Summer Bridge Program. This academic enrichment and leadership development program is provided free of charge. Middle and high school students spend three hours a day engaged in hands-on literacy, STEM, and project-based learning; an hour-and-a-half in waterfront activities; and three hours a day working on their social-emotional skills through ropes and challenge course activities that focus on leadership, team-building, communication, and problem-solving skills. At the end of the week students make a final presentation to their peers and select a book during our book fair to take home to ensure the learning continues. This year we are proud to say our Summer Bridge Program is a finalist for the NSLA’s Excellence in Learning Award.

In honor of National Summer Learning Day, I urge everyone to support evidence-based, high-quality summer programs like ours to reduce the summer learning loss for young people from low-income communities and help ensure they have an equal opportunity when they return to school in September.

— Pam Gregory
President & CEO, Princeton-Blairstown Center

Postscript: Last week’s cover story on the regional homes of New Jersey’s signers of the Declaration of Independence but did not include those who had moved out of town by the time of the Revolution. One such signer was Joseph Hewes, who was born at the Maybury Hill estate on present-day Snowden Lane in Princeton in 1730.

After studying at Prince­ton he moved to North Carolina and served in the state legislature and as a member of the Continental Congress. He retired to Princeton after signing the Declaration and died here in 1779 at the age of 49. His home on Snowden Lane still stands, and a sign by the street recognizes his patriotism.

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