As schools continue to work to mitigate the learning loss resulting from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are offering summer learning programs that combine academics and enrichment. And because of the billions of dollars in ARP ESSER funds that have been distributed to states and districts, they have the resources to invest in these programs. In fact, according to FutureEd, an independent think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, summer learning and afterschool programs are emerging as the top strategies for helping students recover academically from the pandemic’s impacts. Just under half the school districts and charter schools FutureEd examined plan to spend COVID-relief money on summer programs. Among the districts and charter schools that included spending figures, the average was $148 per student for summer learning and $130 for afterschool programming.
Even before 2020, millions of U.S. students were already participating in summer learning and the number is poised to grow with the additional federal funding and the need to accelerate student learning. This presents a prime opportunity for the education community to provide schools with resources to support their summer learning programs. Here are tips for reaching out to your customers and offering your help:
- Think creatively. If a school or district is using your curriculum, resources, or programs during the school year, think creatively about ways that they could use it during summer learning – either face-to-face or remotely. Maybe add fun summer learning activities and provide teachers with a tip sheet to send home to parents to show how using your program can help accelerate learning for their children and keep them on track for success at back to school.
- Provide resources. Or take it up a level and provide your education customers – and hot prospects – with a summer learning toolkit full of ideas and activities for engaging kids during break. It’s a great way to give back to your customers and remain top of mind for when renewal or expansion of the use of your product is at play. You could even partner with another member of the education community (who isn’t a competitor, of course) or an education association or nonprofit to develop and provide the toolkit to schools around the country.
- Develop online activities or challenges. Create your own summer learning challenge or activities on your website. You could do a summer reading club, offer online math challenges, or crazy science experiments to do outdoors. This would drive teacher, parent, and student traffic to your website and can be promoted to schools and districts with creative email campaigns.
- Customize your support. Ask your customers and prospects what they need to support their summer learning programs. If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it is how important it is to listen to what educators tell us they need. They might need something as simple as give aways to reward their students for participating and maybe you have something in your warehouse that would just fit the bill. Or maybe they need a tip sheet tailored to help parents use your product with their child at home for their remote summer learning program. If you develop something like that for one customer, you can then offer it to others and get even more mileage out of your investment.
While students may think learning in the summer is a bummer, the education community can partner with school districts to make it fun and engaging. At MDR, we can help you develop a creative marketing campaign to share the ways that your company can support summer learning programs with educators around the country. Reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources: National, Regional Trends in Educators’ Covid-Relief Spending, FutureEd
Summer School Statistics, ThinkImpact