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This Summer

Family Connections was given the exciting opportunity to provide our very first summer program, allowing us to play a critical role in reducing learning loss for children, especially those who would not normally have access to summer enrichment programs.

“All of the other summer programs that I researched ranged anywhere from $200 to $500 a week which would have made it impossible for me to enroll him. My child and I were able to make new friends and it really is what has made Family Connections such a special experience for me. The summer program offered exactly what I was seeking for my child. A balance between educational activities that would engage him in problem solving, critical thinking, and skill building as well as really fun summer games that would let him enjoy the beautiful weather and have a great time with his new friends. This program also gave me the opportunity to support other families who were not able to stay with their child or volunteer in the classroom. By me being able to volunteer every day of the program, it helped other families participate and have the option of dropping off their children so that they could go to work.”

Parent Jennifer Santos

Mother to 6-year-old Osimar, who was one of the Young Scholars in our Summer Program and has been a FC student since the age of two. Jennifer was elated with their experience.

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Addressing Inequities

 The FC Summer Program was provided at no cost to families, addressing the equity challenges associated with costly summer programs in our area. Free nutritious lunches were provided three times a week by our wonderful partner, Second Harvest Food Bank.

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The Need

Research shows that “The impact of summer learning loss can be devastating, especially for students who are from low-income families and underrepresented communities” (1) and that the achievement gap cannot be narrowed “without addressing students’ need for year-round learning experiences.” (2)

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The Grant

Family Connections is proud to have awarded a San Mateo County Board of Supervisors’ Summer 2022 Enrichment Program grant. Goals of this initiative, which aligned beautifully with Family Connection’s mission, were to:

  • Expand access to summer enrichment programs for low-income and vulnerable students;

  • Support the social-emotional wellbeing of students to mitigate the setbacks and hardships associated with COVID-19; and

  • Provide opportunities for students to reinspire and propel learning to counterbalance learning loss attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning

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Expanding “Young Scholars”

Family Connections used the grant to expand our Young Scholars Program, which provides tutoring, resources, referrals, and monthly workshops during the school year to families with children in kindergarten through 5th grade. We created a 4-week program at both of our sites infused with enrichment activities to bridge the summer gap when achievement delays and learning loss are at their highest.

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Activities & Trips

Students engaged in programming consistent with our regular school-year programs, such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), literacy, language arts, tutoring, social/emotional development and wellness. Examples of the STEM activities were building a marble maze, a “gravity-defying” (balancing) frog, and a “car on a roll” made from cardboard, straws, and foam wheels. These projects were designed for kids to practice skills like engineering, critical thinking and experimentation. The fun and learning continued beyond the classroom with multiple great field trips to destinations like CuriOdyssey, Hidden Villa, La Petite Playhouse, The Tech Interactive, and local parks and libraries.

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New Parent Volunteer Model

Our summer program was also an opportunity to pilot our new caregiver volunteer partial drop-off model. Caregivers were asked to volunteer at least once a week, rather than requiring them to help out every day that their child attended class, as in the past. This model—which was in response to participant feedback—was very successful in reducing participation barriers for parents and caregivers while still providing opportunities for them to build skills and confidence by facilitating activities for small groups of children. We share the experience of one of our parent volunteers later in this newsletter.

Pride and Gratitude

Our heartfelt thanks go out to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors for enabling us to provide this great program, and of course to our donors, whose support over 30 years has allowed us to continually expand and deepen wrap-around services to our wonderful families.

Here’s hoping that your summer has been filled with fun and learning as well!

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Eric Valladares
Executive Director