The Institute seeks to leverage the existing assets within summer programs and infuse easy-to-implement literacy practices to ensure that more children, ages 4-8, in New Orleans have access to a quality summer program so that they are better prepared to enter the school year at the end of summer.
Currently, only 31% of New Orleans third graders are reading on grade level. More than 2,000 New Orleans children between the ages of 4 and 8, who are living in poverty do not have access to an affordable high-quality summer program. By the time they enter the fourth grade, national research shows low-income students can lose more than two years of learning compared to their middle-class peers due to summer learning loss if they do not participate in a quality summer learning program.
In Summer 2018 the Campaign launched the inaugural pilot of the Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute. The Institute aimed to leverage the existing assets within summer programs and infuse easy-to-implement literacy practices to ensure that more children, ages 4-8, in New Orleans had access to a quality summer program so that they are better prepared to enter the school year at the end of summer.
The Institute sought to build a common understanding among program directors and staff of the importance of having literacy components in all summer programs. Each participating summer program received:
- Training modules offered in: Building a Culture of Literacy and Reader's Theater
- 8 hours of individualized training and coaching on appropriate activities and implementation strategy for summer program staff per site
- $500 stipend for literacy materials per site
The inaugural pilot of the Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute launched in 2018 and expanded its early success in 2019, leveraging the existing assets within summer programs and infusing easy-to-implement literacy practices to serve more than two dozen summer programs and over 1,000 children.
The National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading recognized the institute’s progress in 2019 with a Bright Spot honor for filing stories highlighting the innovative strategies developed to address the summer slide and literacy enrichment in summer programs.
The institute’s year-three plan was to deepen and strengthen the existing partnerships and supports so the team could better understand the value participants gain from the institute’s supports, including workshops on literacy integration, embedded instructional coaching, and stipends that increased organizations’ capacity.
Because of COVID-19, the institute team moved to provide all three components in online formats. Even with limited in-person training, coaching, and observation, the institute witnessed significant progress and discovered the benefits of including online programming to participants.
✔ Served approximately 800 children, of which almost two-thirds were rising third graders or younger
✔ Distributed branded family material kits with writing and coloring supplies and a book of the summer
✔ Developed a YouTube channel to host recorded workshops and trainings
✔ Increased accessibility to workshops to program staff through to online delivery
✔ Observed increased attendance and engagement through online delivery
The institute is already planning for year four and beyond as the learning slide has widened beyond the summer months as children and their families navigate virtual learning.
For more information on the Kay Fennelly Summer Institute, visit our
Interested in more fun, engaging literacy-based content for you and your young learners? Visit our YouTube channel for more!
- A’s and Aces
- Community Works
- Dryades YMCA
- First Pilgrims Baptist Church
- Kedila Family Learning Center
- LYFE of Dance
- New Hope Summer Enrichment
- New Orleans Ballet Association
- New Saint Joseph @ Behrman Recreation Center
- Thrive 9th Ward
- Total Community Action, Inc.
- Trinity Community Center
VOICES FROM OUR PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS
“Working with the Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute gave our Y the support we needed to deliver on literacy outcomes that otherwise would not have been realized. The technical expertise of the coach provided insights and lessons learned by our staff to recognize literacy measurements that would have gone unnoticed. By having this focused support, we learned how literacy can be effectively interwoven into our summer activities. As a result, we can identify literacy goals for our children that we are now implementing to enhance the impact our year-round programs.”
-Alicia Oliver & Tara Alexander, Dryades YMCA
“Probably the most remarkable thing about the Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute in 2020 was everyone’s willingness to show up and adapt, daily, to what was needed, with children and their learning as the constant focus. Summer camps were determined to not just open their doors (in-person and virtually). They were committed to children’s continued learning in summer, often making up lost time for the challenges of spring schooling in the midst of COVID. Our incredible coaches supported camps that delivered learning materials and checked on campers and families, door-to-door. Coaches adjusted supports as camp staff and enrollment changed, due to quarantines. They helped find solutions to camps that had to completely rewrite their programs, while keeping children and their literacy development at the center. In just three years, and even in the midst of this particularly challenging year, we have been able to shift perceptions of what rich, literacy-infused out-of-school-time programming can look like. And, not at all coincidentally, we are seeing kids having fun while loving learning!"
-Angela Herbert White, Program Coordinator Kay Fennelly Summer Literary Institute
"Community Works definitely saw the impact of this last summer and we are looking forward to working within the Institute again."
"With Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute, the camp participants learned different ways to interact through reading and writing. It was rewarding and our participants finished the summer with an enhancement in literacy!"
"The Kay Fennelly Summer Literacy Institute really made a positive impact in helping to "bridge the gap" in literacy for the campers."
"Our staff appreciated the Institute last year and benefited greatly; we hope to be part of it again this year."
"The practical, hands-on training and workshop lessons were easily applied to the camp setting."
"Our campers definitely read more books. They also reported that they enjoyed reading."
"It was the next best thing to having a literacy expert in residence! Our coach was accessible, knowledgeable, and made the learnings fun."
"8 year old “Artie” made a friend with a book that fueled his desire to learn to read. Our coach modeled an interactive read-aloud with his group, and the counselor implemented the strategy in their literacy session. Artie was thrilled to get the role of narrator for the group's end-of-camp enactment. By the end of summer, his computer-based reading post-test had almost doubled from his pre-test. He told me, "I'm going to do good in school next year!"