Summer Rising, New York City’s new effort to rebrand summer school has changed a once regular school day into something fun and educational, reports The Brooklyn Eagle.

The city offered 110,00 spots for elementary and middle school students in this year’s program. With over $350 million in funding, up from last year’s $98,000, this is the second year in a row that the city offered the program free to any student.

Last summer, the program was seen as a critical missing link for students especially after school closures due to COVID-19. Now, seats for students were taken just days after applications opened.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, who visited P.S. 7 in Queens last week to see Summer Rising in action, lauded the program’s efforts. He also applauded how schools were working beautifully with local community-based organizations.

“They’re ready for the school year. They’re full of confidence,” Cardona boasted. “They have more social skills.”

Lovanna Abbott, a site director for the Coalition For Hispanic Family Services, a partner with P.S. 7, said her team focused on the arts and literacy this summer. With the theme, “Around the World in 34 days,” children have been learning about different cultures and countries.

“They had their own little passports, so they can see where they’ve gone and what they’ve learned about,” Abbott continued. 

And compared to last summer’s rocky rollout, this year’s enrollment system listened to feedback from families.

This year’s enrollment system prioritized students in temporary housing and students with disabilities, officials said. Now more than 11,000 students in temporary housing and over 32,000 students with disabilities have signed up for the program.

There continue to be a number of snafus, especially for students who require round trip transportation. But overall, families were elated to send their children to Summer Rising.

“I really sincerely feel like kids lose a lot over the summer,” said Brooklyn mom Jamie Braden. “And teachers spend Tim just trying to get them back up to speed. So kids who have been academically motivated during the summer, either maintain what they has or gain a little, and nothing is lost, which I feel is really important.”

Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at both London City University and Williams College majoring in Political Science, Art History, and Africana Studies.

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