Thousands of Philly students line up to take advantage of expanded summer programs

William Hite speaks at a press conference.

School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite speaks at a press conference. (City of Philadelphia)

The School District of Philadelphia has greatly expanded its summer programming this year and almost 15,000 students are set to take the district up on the opportunities.

Using American Rescue Plan dollars, the district is combining academics with other ways to enrich the learning experience for students. The federal stimulus is making it possible for school leaders to expand summer offerings to seven times their usual size.

The idea behind the expansion, which included a universal summer school option, is to narrow any achievement gaps created during virtual learning. The programs available, however, do more than focus on reading and writing.

Ali Robinson-Rogers, executive director of the district office of postsecondary readiness, said one of the most popular programs this summer is StartUp EDU, an entrepreneurship-focused program that teaches high school students how to make business plans. Other offerings available to high schoolers include internships and Quarter 5, a grade improvement program.

“We are combining our academic and enrichment support with the city and the out of school time providers so students have a comprehensive day,” she said.

Grades 1-8 in summer school will be able to participate in project-based learning and extracurriculars like music, art, and physical education.

Robinson-Rogers said students will also have access to career awareness classes this summer, as well as an equity curriculum.

District officials are working in tandem with the city to organize other options and support for students this summer, including Parks and Recreation activities and free summer meals. According to officials, federal dollars are also making it possible to open pools this summer.

“Whether it is a program in the school district or run by one of our partner organizations, it’s really important to see young people engaged in these activities once again,” said Superintendent William Hite.

The school district and city are still tallying how many federal dollars the expansion of summer programming will cost.

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