Published in the ABQ Journal by Rick Nathanson / Journal Staff Writer
May 1, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Too many kids fall behind academically during the summer months because they don’t have access or exposure to activities, programs and experiences that allow them to continue learning and exercising their minds, said Mission: Graduate executive director Angelo Gonzales.
Complicating the matter is that the programs that exist are overbooked. Only about 20 percent of the kids who want to participate in these programs are able to do so, said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.
Keller was among the speakers at a Summer Learning Summit at Los Duranes Community Center on Tuesday, sponsored by Mission: Graduate and the New Mexico Out-of-School Time Network. The goal was to begin building a “citywide vision for after school learning and summer learning support,” Gonzales said.
“We’re working with our partners to figure out how we can collaborate more effectively to ensure that every child in our Albuquerque metro area has access to the highest quality summer learning programs,” Gonzales said.
While there is still much work to do, Keller noted that there already exists many summer resources for young people, including programs operated at area open spaces, parks, museums, libraries, the BioPark and community centers.
In many families, parents, especially single parents, must work full time jobs and they need to know that their children are safe, mentally engaged and in constructive after school and summer programs.
Keller said the city and partners in the endeavor are going to undertake a systematic inventory of all after school and summer programs by location, title and times and days of operation, and then conduct a “gap analysis” to determine where holes exist in programming so that these can eventually be filled.
“We already know that gaps exist,” he said. “Some summer programs are half day … so maybe it would do more good to offer all day programs to half as many people, which solves the problem for that child and that parent, instead of solving half the problem for two children and two parents.”
Another problem that needs to be addressed is transportation for kids to attend these programs. Keller said that city departments often have vehicles assigned to them, including vans and buses. These vehicles are not always in use, particularly on weekends. It’s possible that these could be pressed into service.
Another option for school-based programs is to get the Albuquerque Public Schools to provide transportation in a simple trade: The city will provide funds for after school and summer programs in the schools, Keller suggested, and APS will provide the buses to shuttle kids back and forth.
To receive regular updates on Launch to Learn summer programs from Mission: Graduate, text L2LSummer to 51-555.