Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Boys & Girls Club and Christopher House Join Forces to Combat the “Summer Slide” for Neighborhood Students with Unique Enrichment Programs

This week is National Summer Learning Week, a celebration dedicated to elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe, and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed.

While a break from structured school days and homework can be refreshing, too many weeks without flexing mental muscles can mean losing knowledge students gained during the school year.

This summer learning loss, more commonly known as the “summer slide,” is when kids of all ages can forget important knowledge or skills and must relearn them when they return to school in the fall. In fact, studies show that most low-income youth lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation and reading skills over the summer months.

Particularly in Chicago, summer also means a spike in violence, so it’s critical that youth have safe, productive places to go when school is out. Here in Uptown, two local organizations that provide great opportunities for youth to stay off the streets and make the most of summer break are Christopher House and Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.

  • Christopher House is a family of schools that helps low-income families succeed in school, the workplace, and life. Their Uptown location (4701 N. Winthrop) offers a full-day After School program based on experiential learning, community service and leadership development.
The hands-on curriculum is comprised of various themes for each day to provide a well-rounded learning experience while helping to mitigate the summer slide. Through this experiential approach, students take at least one field trip each week to explore Chicago neighborhoods, visit museums and try new activities such as rock climbing and indoor skydiving – opportunities that many students may not have access to otherwise.

The After School program also exposes them to the benefits of service learning and the importance of civic responsibility on both a local and global level. The youth themselves determine an area of need they wish to focus their efforts on, then plan and execute an effort to help others in need throughout the summer.

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago are known for providing a safe, social environment for out-of-school time, but they also offer a wide range of enrichment programs throughout the year. 
The Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club (4835 N Sheridan Road) offers a special Summer Camp, which provides first-time cultural experiences to Club kids at least once a week during the summer. Some of the field trips Boys & Girls Clubs members have taken include boating on Lake Michigan, indoor skydiving, Chicago Bears Mini-Monsters Football Clinic as well as visits to the Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, and the Children’s Museum at Navy Pier.

In addition, Boys & Girls Clubs also offer DIY STEM, a hands-on, activity-based STEM curriculum which connects youth to science themes they encounter regularly. And, finally, their Summer Brain Gain program is comprised of one-week modules with fun, themed activities for elementary school, middle school and high school students that are aligned with common core anchor standards.

We are so lucky to have programs that are affordable to all, and offer programming to children from infancy (six weeks old) through the teen years, right here.

  • For more information about Christopher House and its unique approach to closing the opportunity gap, visit
  • To learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago’s programs to help all young people reach their full potential, visit

Photos of Summer Camp are courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago

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