Summer Spark Website Helps Families Find Educational Events and Opportunities

Summer Spark Website Helps Families Find Educational Events and Opportunities

(United Way for Southeastern Michigan, April 24, 2019)

Summer Spark, a free online tool designed to help busy parents and caregivers find quality summer programs all in one place, has made it easier than ever to search for fun, engaging and educational activities and programs to fit their child’s interests and the family’s schedule.

Summer Spark is supported by United Way for Southeastern Michigan and powered by Youth Development Resource Center. Following a test of the concept during 2018, Summer Spark has moved from a landing page on United Way’s website and this year is enhanced with its own brand and online platform – – with a focus on improved user experience.

“Summer is a great time for children and youth to find and ignite their passions, have new experiences, get connected to caring adults and develop the confidence and skills to be lifelong learners,” said Tammie Jones, Vice President of Education, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “Summer Spark is about parents and caregivers having access to summer learning programs that help elevate the skills youth need to return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year.”

The one-stop, comprehensive resource features summer programs across Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and allows parents to search by specific criteria such as age, cost, zip code and focus area. The list of programs continues to grow and is expected to include more than 300 programs, nearly double the opportunities available last year.

“Summer can be a tricky time for families,” said Sara Plachta Elliott, Ph.D, Executive Director, Youth Development Resource Center. “It can be hard to find safe and affordable activities for kids when school is out, but it also can be a great time for kids to explore new interests and develop new skills like confidence and teamwork through summer camps and activities. Summer Spark provides a clearinghouse of summer learning opportunities across the tri-county region as caregivers search for the best opportunities for their kids.”

Summer programs can help “spark” the interests and passions of young people, which can lead to greater school success. Activities and programs listed on Summer Spark include the following focus areas: academic enrichment; STEM (science, technology, engineering and math); life skills; college and career prep; community engagement and leadership; fine arts, crafts and performance; and sports, recreation and wellness.

Summer Spark provides information and resources to help bolster a child’s academic and social skill development and address learning loss, also known as “summer slide.” Research shows that for children living in low-income communities throughout metro Detroit, the summer slide can be especially detrimental over the school break. These gaps continue to grow, and by the end of fifth grade, children in these communities can be grades behind in reading as compared to their peers living in more affluent communities. These challenges will also be magnified under new Michigan legislation taking effect during the 2019-20 school year, which will require students to repeat third grade if they fail to achieve reading proficiency.

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