About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University March 26, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 27
Exemplary Summer Programs Honored at National Conference

By Susan Bell
Center for Summer Learning

SuperKids Camp of the Parks & People Foundation in Baltimore is one of four programs nationally that will receive the 2007 Excellence in Summer Learning Award from the Center for Summer Learning in Johns Hopkins' School of Education. The others are Breakthrough Collaborative, Summerbridge Pittsburgh and Morry's Camp. The winners will be recognized during the center's national conference to be held April 18 to 20 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel.

"Our 2007 award winners exemplify the type of high-quality summer learning experience that should be accessible to all young people," said Ron Fairchild, executive director of the center.

The annual Excellence in Summer Learning Award recognizes summer programs that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting positive development for young people, and seeks to find and draw national attention to exemplary programs.

For the past 10 summers, the Parks & People Foundation has operated SuperKids Camp, a six-week highly intensive literacy-based program for elementary school students in the Baltimore City public schools. Ten sites collectively serve more than 1,000 children each summer.

The program combines reading skills improvement with recreation and cultural enrichment activities. Campers visit alternative learning locations such as college campuses, museums, cultural and performing arts centers, libraries, churches and community-based youth development centers throughout the city. According to a 2006 evaluation, students' test scores were, on average, at or above grade level at the conclusion of camp.

Breakthrough Collaborative is a national nonprofit whose two-pronged mission is to launch low-income, high-potential students on the road to college and to inspire their young teachers to pursue careers in education. To date, Breakthrough has positively impacted the lives of more than 10,000 young people.

The key to Breakthrough is the students-teaching-students model. The college and high school students who teach middle school students serve as role models and mentors as well. Often from the same communities as the students, the teachers serve as examples that the skills they teach lead to success.

Founded in San Francisco in 1978 as Summerbridge, Breakthrough serves more than 2,200 middle school students annually and employs 700 high school and college students in 27 locations across the United States. Seventy-nine percent of Breakthrough alumni are attending academically rigorous, college preparatory high schools. As a result of their Breakthrough experiences, 72 percent of teachers enter the field of education, building and diversifying America's teaching corps.

Summerbridge Pittsburgh is an exemplary local affiliate of Breakthrough Collaborative. Like other Breakthrough sites, Summerbridge Pittsburgh provides a tuition-free, intensive academic summer program for academically capable participants with limited opportunity. The program serves lower-income middle school students from the Greater Pittsburgh region for two consecutive summers. All students take classes in mathematics, language arts, wellness and public speaking. Students and their families are supported through financial aid and career development workshops.

Ninety-two percent of Summerbridge Pittsburgh students graduate from high school, and 80 percent have enrolled in college, which is double the rate of their peers.

Morry's Camp, a year-round youth development organization, provides a summer residential camp experience for about 180 inner-city youth between 9 and 18 from the New York metropolitan area. The camp provides participants — who are referred by a teacher, guidance counselor, social worker or after school staffer — with the opportunity to develop social, recreational and educational skills. Children are helped to identify their individual goals and supported in pursuing them in the summer and throughout the year.

One hundred percent of campers graduate from high school, 80 percent enroll in an institution of higher education, and 100 percent of participants in college have remained in college.

"Celebrate Summer as a Season for Learning" is the theme of this year's Center for Summer Learning conference. A representative from each award-winning organization has been invited to speak on a best practices panel that will be held on Friday, April 20. The conference will also feature concurrent workshops about integrated approaches to learning, effective program management and understanding research and influencing policy.

For more information about the conference, go to


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |