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SAIL Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) Program?

The Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) Program was developed in Birmingham as part of an action plan to respond to a survey of 37 Birmingham-area summer programs, conducted by the National Summer Learning Association in 2011. The SAIL Program was created to overcome summer learning loss. In the summer of 2012, a group of six Birmingham funders collaborated to launch the initial pilot projects of SAIL in their communities. In 2016, this group has grown to more than 10 funders supporting nearly 40 SAIL programs in central Alabama.

What is summer learning loss?

According to the Summer Learning Association:

“Summer learning loss, the phenomenon where young people lose academic skills over the summer, is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth and one of the strongest contributors to the high school dropout rate. For many young people, the summer ‘opportunity gap’ contributes to gaps in achievement, employment and college and career success.

  • Every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. Most youth lose about two months of math skills in the summer.
  • These reading and math losses add up. By fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students 2½ to 3 years behind their peers.
  • Research shows that while gaps in student achievement remain relatively constant during the school year, the gaps widen significantly during the summer.
  • Low-income youth lose access to healthy meals over the summer. Six out of every seven students who receive free- and reduced-price lunches lose access to them when school lets out.” (www.summerlearning.org)

The good news is that the effect of participation in a summer learning program can benefit the child for at least two years afterwards.

How does SAIL work to overcome summer leaning loss?

Through the SAIL Program in Birmingham, local and statewide funders, school districts, camps, summer programs, and education service providers developed a strong collaboration network to provide accountability, to institute a quality assurance framework, to provide a joint application for nonprofit organizations seeking grant support, and to engage the community toward a common goal. SAIL focuses on summer programs where students can explore new interests and skills and gain the support they need to prevent summer learning loss.

Does SAIL make a difference?

Local experience in Birmingham has shown average gains of at least two months in reading and math during a five to six week program, making a significant positive difference for these children.

What is the plan to expand the SAIL Program in Huntsville?

This spring, the Community Foundation conducted extensive planning with the Birmingham team to launch the SAIL Program in Madison County for the summer of 2017. The Board of Directors of the Community Foundation has made a three-year commitment to participate in the SAIL Program and to engage other local and statewide funders in this effort. In 2017, we will launch the following three pilot SAIL Programs in our community:

  • Heart of the Valley YMCA’s BELL Power Scholars Academy and Y Readers Programs, in collaboration with The C.A.R.E. Center, located at Madison County Elementary School
  • Madison City School’s English Learner SAIL Program, in collaboration with Better Basics, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Athens State University, located at Madison Elementary School
  • Village of Promise’s Freedom School, in collaboration with Huntsville City Schools, located at Highlands Elementary School

Who is eligible for SAIL funding?

Non-profit organizations, governmental entities, and religious organizations who meet the requirements of IRS section 501(c)(3) and are seeking funding to add an academic component to your camps or expand an existing program to help prevent summer learning loss. To see the types of SAIL programs that have been funded in Birmingham, please visit www.edbirmingham.org/sail-2016-summer-learning-sites.

If I’m interested in being a SAIL funder, do I lose autonomy for my grant dollars?

No! SAIL funders will come together for a Funders’ Conference in mid-October. Each funder will be able to evaluate the programs that have been selected and to decide where to place their grant dollars.

256.535.2065 | info@communityfoundationhsv.org

MAILING P.O. Box 332 | Huntsville, Alabama 35804 • LOCATION 225 Church Street | Huntsville, Alabama 35801
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