What if Summer Learning came with a Blueprint?

October 19, 2017 by Amy Anderson

At ReSchool Colorado, we work to close opportunity gaps and create the conditions for expansive learning pathways in our state. On the heels of various human-centered research and design efforts since our launch in 2013, we are beginning to move some concepts beyond design to launch. With each prototype, we’ve learned more about what learners and families want and need from a dynamic, responsive education system.

Most of our prototypes to date were during the summer months, in part because summer is a good time to try new things without competing with the demands of the typical school year. Summer is often the time and space when learners have the freedom to explore and pursue passions, build relationships, experience new things, and broaden social horizons.

In our partnerships with families these past few years, we’ve witnessed growing gaps in opportunity between more affluent learners who have access to a variety of enrichment experiences that keep them engaged in learning during the summer months, and their less affluent peers, many of whom don’t get the opportunity to engage in organized summer learning. This “enrichment gap” does not just contribute to the well-documented summer slide; over time, it also results in gaps in exposure, exploration, relationships, and a chance to develop purpose and a sense of self in the real world.

A specific pain point for our Learner Advocate Network and for parents we have connected with across the socioeconomic spectrum is knowing how, when, and where to access learning in the summer. Although many parents want their kids to participate in more activities, they acknowledge information is hard to find, registration deadlines seem to sneak up, and spots are often filled before many families know to have summer on their mind. Today, we are excited to share that we have found a compelling solution to this thorny problem.

Launched in 2015 in St. Louis, Blueprint4Summer is a mobile app and website that puts thousands of summer offerings at the fingertips of families. Parents can search for classes, lessons, one-day experiences and week-long camps, with themes ranging from art, music, science, and academic enrichment. The tool is free for parents, students, and learning providers, and easy to use, filtering options by zip code, price, dates, and interests, to meet family’s needs. Through creating a free account, parents can bookmark their favorite programs, save their search results, and print a calendar that maps out the summer plans, color-coded for each of their children.

Blueprint4Summer was created by Maxine Clark, the founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop and longtime educational advocate. Along with her colleagues from the Clark-Fox Family Foundation, Maxine will be visiting Denver on Friday, November 3rd as a Donnell-Kay Foundation Hot Lunch speaker to share the story of Blueprint4Summer. Sign up for the Hot Lunch here.

Our team is gearing up to launch Blueprint4SummerCO in January 2018. In addition to making this resource available for free to anyone who wants to use it, we will have scholarships available via funding we have raised and by expanding access to existing scholarships that many summer learning providers are eager to award. The team behind Blueprint4Summer shares our belief that learning happens within and beyond the walls of school, and access to those enriching learning opportunities is not equitable today. When information about summer experiences is collected in one place, so is the crucial information on how to pay for them.

Stay tuned for more on this effort in the coming months!

Contact Amy