Boys & Girls Club members avoid the summer slide with Great Futures Academy

Boys & Girls Club members headed back to school on Monday, August 14, ready to learn thanks to numerous community partners who helped them avoid the “summer slide,” a phenomenon where young people, especially those who live in low-income households, experience academic learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities over summer break.

We were proud to partner with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to reverse this trend for the fourth year and give children extra educational support this summer through the Great Futures Academy. Through this program, our Club members received thorough academic instruction with a certified teacher through group exercises, hands-on learning experiences and a variety of rich literacy materials that encourage the development of reading skills.

This year, the Great Futures Academy, which was funded by the Allen Wirtz Nobbe and Jo Bowen Nobbe Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, provided low-income youth at the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club with educational enrichment activities Monday through Friday. In the morning sessions, the youth were engaged in an educational environment and focused on improving their reading skills in small groups with a tutor. Each afternoon, the youth participated in a variety of activities such as art, technology, swimming, educational field trips, prevention programs and physical fitness. Club members were also fed a morning and afternoon snack, as well as, a nutritional lunch each day.

While the ultimate goal of the Great Futures Academy was to stop summer learning loss for the participating youth, the program was also designed to provide the children’s guardians with opportunities to raise themselves out of poverty through job training and networking.

“We truly believe education is the key that can significantly change a person’s difficult financial situation and fight generational poverty,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “That’s why the Great Futures Academy is a two-pronged approach that addresses both the child’s education, as well as, their parents’ needs.”

Not only did the parents agree to actively help their child succeed in the program, but they also committed to enhance their own difficult financial situation. As a result, and with the help from the Allen Wirtz Nobbe and the Jo Bowen Nobbe Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County provided them with a full scholarship for their children to participate in the program at no cost. Parents were also required to attend parenting workshops throughout the summer to close any sort of gap between the program and the children’s educational experiences at home. Parents also had access to a Parent Liaison/Social Worker who helped them enhance their education through GED classes, secondary education or vocational studies, as well as, job skills and housing needs.

“Because of the Great Futures Academy and the support of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, our Club members and their families are on track to have a successful year both inside and outside the classroom,” said Sadlo.