SummerCollab began in 2013 as an initiative of Teach For America Delaware. That initiative partnered five community-based organizations to share challenges and solutions to systemic operational hurdles holding their institutions back.
In 2015, SummerCollab became a stand-alone non-profit and has rapidly expanded its reach throughout Delaware. We partnered with community based institutions and schools to light kids up about learning through extraordinary summer programs. We made precise capacity building investments in each of our partnering sites in the form of leadership coaching, specialized personnel, staff training, technology and curriculum.
Over the years, we have broadened our reach to partner with more than 12 community agencies and 3 school districts. This work has impacted the education and personal growth of over 2,000 low-income children and more than 500 youth development professionals.
The National Summer Learning Association named SummerCollab as winner of one of its 2017 Excellence in Summer Learning Awards, granted to just 8 applicants out of a pool of 500. The award recognizes outstanding summer programs that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for low-income children and youth between pre-kindergarten and twelfth grade.
Over the years, SummerCollab has expanded beyond our initial capacity building work. In 2016, we launched our first Tyler’s Camp where campers have a chance to explore all that they can be and what they have the potential to create. Summer 2018 marked the inaugural year for Reading Buddies, through which SummerCollab engages 40 AmeriCorps Members to deliver targeted reading instruction to campers at our Member sites. During 2020 and 2021, SummerCollab rose to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to pivot our programming to virtual formats. In the Fall of 2021, the Community Mentor Network was established to support students’ academic and social-emotional needs as they returned to in-person learning.
SummerCollab’s transformational work in the community is only possible through our talented, committed, and passionate workforce. Each year, we employ and train hundreds of local community members, from high school students to veteran teachers, all of whom are essential to fulfilling our mission.
Our workforce development aims to place into work and upskill community members at varying levels of professional experience. In our network, they take on roles that will enhance summer programming at partner agencies and our own programs with the potential to unleash positive outcomes for kids. This entails targeted recruitment through schools and civic organizations, and precise training on both specific content areas and general best practices. We specifically recruit a young workforce from the same community we serve. This has the dual purpose of key professional development for an underserved population, and provides our children with role models to whom they can relate. We also prioritize engagement with rising school leaders, who gain critical administrative experience and a deeper connection with their kids/community.
Though our past programming has focused primarily on summer, we know that in order to truly make an impact on a child, and our community, we must extend our reach. As such, our current growth plans are centered on deepening our partnerships with Delaware schools and community-based agencies in order to form an ecosystem where school, after-school, home, and summer camp are working cohesively to meet our kids’ needs.
We are currently at a pivotal point in our organization. Our desire is to grow our operational footprint of Tyler’s Camps and Reading Buddies, build a solid foundation for growth and expansion of the Community Mentor Network, and to launch CollabConsulting built from the foundation of SummerCollab’s original program model for local camps and workforce development.
We have laid some significant groundwork that will fuel our year-long impact. Our work in the community with Tyler’s Camps, Reading Buddies and the Community Mentor Network has uniquely positioned us to build new connections between school districts and our community partners. SummerCollab has created original curriculum and program designs that can impact larger audiences. And, our intentional work in building and growing leadership development skills across all of these programs benefits both the community and the individual team members for years to come.