Summer Learning Programs in Philadelphia Receive $4.6 Million Boost from William Penn Foundation

Great Learning

Summer Learning Programs in Philadelphia Receive $4.6 Million Boost from William Penn Foundation

Posted: Monday, March 21, 2022
Source: William Penn Foundation

22 summer programs across the city will support more than 29,000 students over the next two summers

PHILADELPHIA (March 21, 2022) – The William Penn Foundation awarded more than $4.6 million to 22 organizations to implement free summer programming that builds academic and social-emotional skills for over 29,000 children in summer 2022 and 2023. The programs vary in length, frequency, focus area, and ages served to ensure Philadelphia families have access to the summer learning opportunities that are best for their children. 

The Foundation initially provided support for these in-person or hybrid summer programs during the height of the COVID pandemic, when most Philadelphia students did not attend school in-person for an entire year. The programs were implemented with success in 2021, with 82% of the funded organizations reporting that attendance at their summer programs met or exceeded the projections they made in the spring. The additional two years of funding announced today will support the organizations to serve more students and/or offer more academic support than in previous years.

Analysis of student performance shows that for most early elementary school students in Philadelphia, considerable ground is lost during the summer break. Research conducted by the School District of Philadelphia (just prior to COVID) found that 61% of students in grades K-2 are either at a lower or similar reading level in November than they were when they left school the previous June, despite two months of instruction since the start of the new school year.

For older students, the concept known as “summer melt” describes a common phenomenon around the country in which students do not remain engaged in learning or other positive employment or leadership experiences. The summer programs supported by the Foundation include several that serve high school students.

“Summer is an important time for exploration and skill-building, and these organizations demonstrated their ability to work successfully with children and families under the most uncertain and challenging conditions last summer,” said Elliot Weinbaum, Director of the Great Learning program at the William Penn Foundation. “Research shows us that one of the reasons for the gap in attainment between children from lower and higher income families is that higher income families can spend money on enriching summer programs. These grants seek to help close that gap by making enriching and engaging summer learning experiences available to all.”

The following organizations have been awarded a total of $4,617,129 to support their free summer learning programs for the next two years:

  • Barnes Foundation: Early learning programming in community settings in West, South, and North Central Philadelphia, in coordination with seven other local cultural institutions.
  • Center for Black Educator Development: Freedom Schools Literacy Academy for students in grades 1-3, including apprenticeships for high school and college students interested in exploring a teaching career.
  • Children’s Mission, Inc.: Summer and after-school programming for students in the Germantown area.
  • Community Partnership School: Math and literacy skills for students entering 1st through 5th grades.
  • Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc.: Science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and English learner support for students in grades K-12.
  • Education Works: Science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and social-emotional learning for students in grades K-12 at 15 locations.
  • Fab Youth Philly: Literacy-rich activities led by youth Play Captains in four Philadelphia public parks, in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation.
  • Greene Street Friends: Literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional learning for K-8 students attending public schools in Northwest Philadelphia.
  • LOGAN Hope: Literacy, mathematics, and English learner support for K-5 students in North Philadelphia.
  • Math Corps: Math instruction for middle and high school students, with high school and college students hired as teaching assistants, tutors and mentors.
  • Pennsylvania School for the Deaf: Supplemental language immersion and learning opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing K-12 students.
  • Philadelphia Education Fund: Summer enrichment program utilizing an incentive-based and career-connected model to re-engage high school students.
  • Philadelphia Futures: Reading interventions and tutoring for high school students.
  • Philadelphia Housing Authority: Full-day Mighty Writers summer camp, including social-emotional skills and mindfulness techniques.
  • Philadelphia Youth Basketball: Basketball skill-building and academic curriculum to address learning gaps and leadership development for students in grades 5-12.
  • Philadelphia Youth Network: WorkReady program providing paid work experiences to teens and young adults, including digital and financial literacy and career exposure.
  • Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse: Literacy support and social emotional learning for students in grades K-2.
  • Springboard Collaborative: Literacy instruction for students in grades K-3, including summer family workshops to learn strategies to improve children's reading.
  • Steppingstone Scholars: Math and literacy instruction for students in grades 6-12, including support for rising 9th graders to focus on acclimation to high school.
  • Tacony Community Development Corporation: Summer literacy and STEM programming for students in grades K-7 at the Tacony Library.
  • University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education: Literacy, math, and social-emotional learning for students in grades K-8 who attend Lea, Comegys, Mitchell, and McMichael elementary schools in West Philadelphia.
  • Urban League of Philadelphia: Social-emotional learning, academic enrichment, and career exposure for middle school students.

Details of each program mentioned above will be available on The City of Philadelphia’s Program Locator tool. This tool includes information about hundreds of summer and after-school programs, which users can search for via a number of different criteria, including age, grade, zip code, focus area, and more. 

The City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families has also today announced programs and activities that provide fun and enriching opportunities for children, teens, and families this summer. For more information on those programs, please visit:



About William Penn Foundation                     

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, provide inclusive and equitable public spaces and arts and culture experiences, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Learn more at