10 ways to prevent summer brain drain in Pittsburgh kids

Since 2017, Bridge to Summer has connected Pittsburgh kids and families to educational opportunities. The partnership of organizations promotes initiatives to make sure kids don’t experience a “summer slide” in learning during vacation.

“This year in particular with the COVID-19 pandemic, the stay-at-home orders and the early school closings, it’s very important to have students engaged,” says Stephanie Lewis, director of APOST (Allegheny Partners of Out of School Time). “Whether it’s summer learning opportunities or just opportunities to engage and interact with friends and positive adults, it’s very important to connect families to those opportunities.”

As we transition into the Green Phase, some Bridge to Summer programs are hosting in-person events. But due to safety precautions necessitated by the coronavirus outbreak, some programming, activities and learning opportunities will only be available online.

Here are 10 sources of educational programming and support that will help prevent kids from brain drain this summer:

1. APOST Program Finder

Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time (APOST) features a database of over 1,000 organizations in Western Pennsylvania that offer core educational programs in fields, including the arts, sports, social justice, and STEM.  The database is searchable by location, program name and area of interest. Through its networks and providers, APOST has provided almost 48,000 youths with 53,000 hours of training and education in various fields.

2. Free tutoring from Gwen’s Girls

Gwen’s Girls is fighting learning loss by offering free tutoring to Allegheny County kids in grades K-12. Sessions can help with SAT/ACT prep and organizing college applications. Qualified tutors work remotely with individual and group sessions in a variety of subjects, as well as provide support for special needs students.

3. Allegheny County Parks

While parks in Allegheny County are gradually reopening, the park system offers a variety of kid-friendly activities that can be accessed remotely. On the Parks @ Home page, find links to printable pages like the Round Hill Park Chicken Maze, Copy This Butterfly, and Whose Tracks are These? Kids can join park rangers on virtual hikes, including one at the Latodami Nature Center. Browse through the activities pages to register for in-person programs like Fascinating Fireflies, Ladybugs with a Naturalist and Mountain Biking.

4. Citiparks

Many Citiparks-sponsored events have been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, but there are still lots of fun educational activities for kids. CitiCamp @ Home features Urban Adventures, activities that include weekly STEM/STEAM projects, games, and chances to win family-friendly prizes. Kits for CitiCamp @ Home are available at Grab ‘n Go Meal distribution locations on a first-come, first-served basis. Or look online for Roving Art Cart printable activities and other fun stuff.

5. Summer Dreamers Academy

Pittsburgh Public Schools students who have completed grades K-5 can take free advanced lessons in English-Language Arts and Math through the Summer Dreamers Academy. This video features interviews with students enrolled in the academy. This year’s Summer Dreamers Academy will run virtually from June 29-Aug. 5.

6. Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank

Good food and proper nutrition help kids stay in shape mentally and physically. The Pittsburgh Foodbank’s Summer Food Service Program provides free meals and enjoyable activities to kids up to age  18 during summer months. Hundreds of sites are launching in neighborhoods throughout the area. Find a Summer Food site near you by texting FOOD to 877-877 or call 2-1-1 to hear site locations and meal schedules. You can also click on the USDA Summer Meal Site Finder. No registration is required.

7. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

While libraries remain closed, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh brings plenty of online activities to the tables. More than 30 libraries in Allegheny County are offering Summer Reading 2020 to encourage readers of all ages to explore books. CLP also provides online resources for kids and teenagers, including virtual storytimes, reading lists and Teenspace Instagram.

8. Allegheny Child Care

This free search tool for parents and caregivers in need of child care was developed in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Allegheny Child Care quickly expanded to include listings for early learning programs, including after-school, out-of-school, and summer camps. Among the resources are a checklist for parents to ask providers and tips about finding and paying for high-quality child care.

9. Learn & Earn Summer Youth Employment Program

Created to provide useful work experiences for low-income kids ages 14-21, Learn & Earn is open to residents of Allegheny County. Emphasis is placed on developing work skills and experience that will enable participants to become successful in post-secondary education and as members of the region’s workforce.

10. Kidsburgh

You are here! We’re proud that Kidsburgh is a source of news, information and events geared toward Pittsburgh kids and families. Watch for our weekly Things to do with kids in Pittsburgh for activities and entertainment news. Click into our guides like Virtual Summer Camps and 10 free online educational resources. STEM projects include a slew of Maker Monday activities to keep kids busy. It all adds up to a great summer of fun!