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Big Lift Inspiring Summers: Ending the Summer Slide

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Big Lift Inspiring Summers: Ending the Summer Slide

San Mateo County Libraries, Calif.

Education - Children & Adults | 2017 | Honorable Mention

Innovation Synopsis

Big Lift Inspiring Summers" is a collective impact program that reverses summer learning loss in low-income, kindergarten through second grade students through a five-week, full-day camp that offers literacy and STEM content and nurtures the mind and body through innovative programming, nutritious meals and confidence-building, pro-social learning activities.


San Mateo County is one of the nation's most expensive housing markets where half of the county’s children are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade. That figure rises to 73 percent for Latino, African American and Pacific Islander children. To address the lifelong achievement gap, we developed a powerful curriculum and summer camp model that enabled 43 percent of pilot participants to gain a full grade level.

Key Elements of Innovation

BLIS is a unique collective impact model that brings the County Office of Education, nonprofits, a regional community foundation and libraries together to offer a wraparound program that includes: 1) an evidence-based curriculum augmented by high-quality learning experiences that are generally only available to affluent children, 2) a focus on design-thinking skills, mindfulness, nutritious meals and social development, and 3) child-directed activities and a curriculum that builds children’s identities as confident lifelong learners.

Achieved Outcomes

We adapted our curriculum to serve 750+ children, who gained two to four months of reading skill through BLIS. Of these, 95 percent found the program enjoyable. To ensure that children and their families could thrive, we became a federally-certified Summer Food Service Program site—providing 25,000 healthy meals to children and their families and partnering with the local food bank to provide healthy snacks.