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Get Georgia Reading and Clear Channel Outdoor Americas team up to increase summer learning, safety and access to free meals for children and teens

Get Georgia Reading partners – including the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, the Georgia Public Library Service, and Georgia Public Broadcasting – have launched GeorgiaSummer.org, a toolkit full of resources for summer reading, safety, and meals. Billboards across the Metro Atlanta area, courtesy of Clear Channel Outdoor Americas – Atlanta Division, will point to the website and highlight the importance of summer access to healthy meals, safe environments, and books and educational opportunities for children. 

“We believe in using our resources to inspire action in the thousands of neighborhoods where we operate our business, and feel summer learning and summer meals helps to set the foundation for future individual and community success,” said Jack Jessen, Regional President, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas. “We’ve joined with Get Georgia Reading to promote continuous learning and meal opportunities for all young students — especially during the summer months.”   

Sixty-six percent of teachers surveyed by the National Summer Learning Association reported that it takes them at least three to four weeks to re-teach the previous years' skills at the beginning of a new school year.  

“Many kinds of informal, or high-quality formal, enrichment opportunities during the summer can make a difference in stemming learning loss, and ultimately closing the country’s achievement gap,” said Matthew Boulay, Ph.D., NSLA founder and CEO. “We are thrilled to see our partner, Get Georgia Reading, joining our national efforts to keep kids learning, safe and healthy each summer.” 

Curbing summer learning loss

When students don’t read and learn during the summer months, they lose educational ground: research shows that students can lose up to three months of reading ability over the summer. This phenomenon – known as summer slide– can lower achievement potential and widen the achievement gap. Fortunately, this is preventable. Research shows that children who read and learn during the summer don’t suffer the same losses, and may even show some growth in their reading ability. 

“Nothing could be more important than making sure Georgia’s students are safe, healthy, and learning,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Each summer, we look for new ways to spread the word far and wide about opportunities for children and families, because we want to make sure no child goes hungry or loses educational ground just because school is out. I’m grateful for the partnerships – between the public and private entities making up the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, and through the generosity of Clear Channel Outdoor Americas – that made this campaign a reality, to the benefit of our students here in Georgia.”     

GPLS and Georgia's public libraries work to promote the value and joy of reading and learning,” State Librarian Julie Walker added. “At no time is this more important and relevant than summer, when students of all ages are out of school. Summer reading plays a vital role in continuing the learning process while providing the happy place that is found in books. GPLS is delighted to invite all of Georgia's families to visit the more than 400 public libraries participating in this year's summer reading program, and to indulge in one of summer's pure pleasures...reading.” 

Providing access to free, healthy meals

Access to meals during the summer is critical as well, since students often rely on the meals they’re served during the school day. 

“Through GA DECAL’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), children 18 and younger have access to free, healthy meals so that they can continue to learn, play, and grow when school is not in session,” DECAL Commissioner Amy Jacobs said. “The Georgia Summer campaign ensures that families have access to a myriad of resources that will keep children engaged and well-fed during the summer months during the summer months to stave off ‘summer slide’. Ensuring children have access to quality care and education regardless of family income or location is the vision of GA DECAL. Through this multi-agency/organization partnership, families and children will have the resources to access just that.” 

A simple, easy-to-use toolkit for summer resources

GeorgiaSummer.org aims to address all of these issues, pulling together resources and information developed by public and private partners across the state. Parents and families can use the site to find resources for reading and learning over the summer; find a location to receive a free, healthy meal for their student; and learn more about summer safety. The billboard campaign sponsored by Clear Channel Outdoor underscores the importance of keeping kids healthy, learning, and safe over the summer, giving a wide voice to the effort and making a wider impact possible. 

GeorgiaSummer.org is live now, and billboards are up across the Metro Atlanta area. All Georgians are encouraged to use the hashtag #SchoolsOutGA this summer to share photos, videos, and stories that show how families are incorporating these tools into everyday life. 

About Get Georgia Reading

Get Georgia Reading is a collaboration of more than 100 public and private partners that are finding new ways of working together across Georgia, across sectors, across agencies and organizations, and across the early years and early grades, using data to inform decision=making. In 2013, more than 100 state and local leaders joined in an eight-month planning process to develop a clearly defined common agenda to create the conditions for every child in Georgia to become a proficient reader by the end of third grade. The common agenda consists of four research-based pillars that work together to provide a platform for success: Language NutritionAccessPositive Learning Climate, and Teacher Preparation and Effectiveness. These four pillars provide a new way of looking at early literacy and learning during the first eight years of life, opening the doors to conversations that identify gaps and where to locate resources to fill those gaps. Campaign partners are using the four pillars to challenge conventional approaches, establish new cross-sector collaborations, and support collective action in communities throughout the state.