LISC Stops the "Summer Slide": Invests $15 Million in Academic Programs

Summer Academic Programs Receive Critical Bridge Loans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 12, 2013) — With two new operational loans to summer academic programs, Greater Kansas City LISC announces that it has invested an unprecedented $15 million in K-12 summer education initiatives since 2008.

This year LISC has provided a $455,145 loan to Mount Pleasant Education and Development Corporation to support operations of the Kansas City Freedom Schools Initiative (KCFSI) six-week summer academic enrichment program. In addition, a loan of $3.25 million was made to Swope Corridor Renaissance Upper Room Inc. (Upper Room) for its successful Summer Academic Camp.

These investments reflect LISC’s long-term commitment to increasing access to high-quality educational opportunities for children and youth in disadvantaged urban-core neighborhoods. Quality summer initiatives play a critical role in helping disadvantaged children – many of whom are in failing or low-performing schools – to achieve the gains necessary to improve their skills and advance in school.

“Thanks to Greater Kansas City LISC and this important loan, we will continue to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the operation of our literacy-based educational curriculum,” said Rev. Darren Faulkner, Freedom Schools executive director and CEO. “LISC helps us achieve the goals of building self-esteem, fostering leadership and most importantly, helping children develop a love for reading.”

Both LISC investments are considered bridge loans designed to fill the gap for operational costs until funds are released in the fall by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The loans help pay for teacher salaries, program supplies and field trips, and other administrative expenses; and without the LISC investments, these summer academic programs would struggle to exist.

“Improving access to quality education is an important goal of Greater Kansas City LISC and our flagship program called NeighborhoodsNOW,” said Terri Mueller, Greater Kansas City LISC interim executive director. “The Freedom Schools Initiative and the Upper Room are proven examples of why accelerated summer programs make sense for low-income urban children.” NeighborhoodsNOW is a multi-year initiative that leverages funding and resources to accelerate comprehensive redevelopment in targeted neighborhoods in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan. Many of the summer academic sites are located in NeighborhoodsNOW target areas.

“It’s no secret that children battle the ‘summer slide’ often losing two months of reading skills during the summer, and it’s especially devastating for low-income children who attend poor-performing schools,” said Chris Vukas, LISC senior program officer for lending and underwriting. “When children in these quality summer programs head back to school, most of them have leaped one or more grade levels in reading. We can’t think of a better investment than these proven academic programs.”

Both programs are partners in the “Turn the Page KC” reading initiative, promoted by Mayor Sly James.

In the Kansas City area, more than 20,000 scholars in grades K-12 have participated in Freedom Schools over the past 18 years. KCFSI’s academic approaches are helping to eliminate the literacy deficiencies. A formal assessment conducted by Philliber Research Associates found that continued participation in Freedom Schools increased the impact on a scholar’s reading achievement. A child increased his or her reading skills by 2.2 grade equivalents when in the program for at least three years, compared to 1.4 for those who participated for two years.

Upper Room students also are able to beat the odds. According to a 2007 study of the Upper Room Summer Academic Camp by John Hopkins University, the average student gained nearly a full academic year in reading in just eight weeks. Additionally, the program has a 90 percent attendance rate during camp operations and a strong return rate among past students.

Upper Room is one of the largest academic enrichment summer programs in the Kansas City bi-state area and will assist 3,650 students this summer at 30 sites. The successful effort incorporates daily literacy programs taught by trained teachers, one-on-one reading with volunteers, intellectually interesting fieldtrips, and all within a safe and positive environment.

“For six years now, the LISC loan has allowed us to continue operations without interruption and help thousands of children learn to read and improve limited reading skills,” said Jerry McEvoy, Upper Room executive director.

About LISC Greater Kansas City LISC is the local site for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's largest community development organization. Greater Kansas City LISC supports redevelopment in more than 100 square miles of Kansas City metro area neighborhoods and helps transform them into healthy, sustainable communities in partnership with their residents. Since 1981, Greater Kansas City LISC has invested more than $143 million into urban-core neighborhoods on both sides of the state line, which has leveraged $610 million in total development. This investment has created 942,435 square feet of community facilities and sports fields; 5,881 new and rehabbed homes and apartments; 5,393 minor home repairs; and over1.4 million square feet of retail and commercial space. For more information, follow Greater Kansas City LISC: @LISC_KC; and on Facebook.

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