This July, proud parents, siblings and supporters gathered in the auditorium of Susan B. Anthony Elementary School in Daly City to celebrate 200 scholars graduating from The Big Lift's Inspiring Summers program – a program designed to boost reading skills among children in kindergarten through second grade. Inspiring Summers is part of the larger Big Lift effort to improve literacy among San Mateo County third graders by 2020, jointly led by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, the San Mateo County Office of Education, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
This year, Inspiring Summers enrolled 1,243 scholars entering kindergarten through second grades. Participants averaged about one and a half months of progress in their reading skills, combatting a typical trend in which disadvantaged students without access to summer learning opportunities lose two months of reading skills over the summer.
Third grade reading proficiency has been found to be the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success, and The Big Lift offers the full-day, four-week Inspiring Summers program at no cost to participating families. Mornings are dedicated to literacy instruction, and in the afternoon students work on experiential learning activities in science, art, technology and math.
“We are grateful to San Mateo County for funding The Big Lift through Measure K taxpayer dollars. The impact of this program is being felt across the county, across seven school districts and by more than a thousand families,” says Big Lift Initiative Officer Andrea Jones. “The 1,243 children who participated in Inspiring Summers are more ready to start Kindergarten, first and second grades. In addition to being prepared academically, they also had a fun, enriching and exciting summer which is something all children, of every income level, should experience. Their families tell us time and again how much The Big Lift means to them.”
The graduation event celebrated outstanding scholars and facilitators with awards for courage, respect, collaboration and growth, and included a multicultural celebration with performances from scholar groups followed by fun-filled field day activities.
In addition, the work of The Big Lift team was acknowledged this summer with a Pacesetter award from The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. San Mateo was one of 29 Pacesetter communities "recognized for serving as a proof point and representing the leading edge of innovation, impact and improvement within the GLR network."
To learn more about The Big Lift and get involved, visit www.siliconvalleycf.org/thebiglift