The Challenges

All children deserve the opportunity to succeed, but existing public systems inhibit equal outcomes, and maintain societal inequities. Across our country, many students and families are unable to access the support they need, both during and outside of school. HNYC is here to meet these challenges, and work to advance education equity across the NYC region.

Summer Learning Loss: The need for summer learning programs like the ones at HNYC is universal throughout the United States, and has been well documented. Summer learning loss is the cumulative erosion of academic skills over the summer months, which over time can leave students years behind in school, contributing to chronic absenteeism and high school drop-out rates. SLL has been identified by Wireless Generation, Yale University’s Howard Zigler, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation as the single greatest contributing factor to the growing opportunity gap between economically marginalized and more affluent children. A 2007 study/interview by Karl Alexander from Johns Hopkins University articulates how economically disadvantaged “youth suffer significantly from a loss of academic skills over the summertime and the losses pile up, contributing to an achievement gap that can make the difference between whether students set out on a path for college or decide to drop out of school.” Furthermore, the long-term educational consequences of summer learning loss on under-served communities are profoundly clear when students reach high school and begin their transitions to adulthood.

The Opportunity Gap: Out-of-school programs, and especially those in the summer, can be costly and offer limited options for transportation and activities, leaving many families unable to participate. These gaps in opportunity all contribute to students experiencing summer learning loss. On average, a student who does not experience summer learning activities can lose up to 2 months in academic skills. HNYC aims to change this reality. Program sites serve students who might otherwise experience significant learning loss during the summer months, ensuring that every child has opportunities to learn and grow. By the end of each 6-week summer session, Horizons students have typically gained at least 6 weeks of grade equivalence in reading and math — effectively mitigating summer learning loss and sending students back to school feeling confident and prepared!

COVID-19 and Learning Loss: In this uncertain time, one thing is clear: the opportunity gap that Horizons addresses is becoming even larger. With the global pandemic we are facing, researchers have raised concern over the “COVID-19 Slide” that students in economically disadvantaged settings will experience, brought on by the disruption in learning created by this unforeseen crisis. Early in the pandemic, researchers hypothesized that by autumn of 2020, students would return to school with as much as a 50% learning loss in mathematics and a 30% learning loss in reading, with elementary learners at the highest risk. That was only after a few months of virtual learning, and now, our students have had three regular school-years impacted by COVID-19. Since we know that learning loss is cumulative, the “COVID-19 Slide” will have detrimental effects on a student’s academic path into their higher education years, unless intervention is received. In addition, these students will more likely experience higher rates of trauma including: food insecurity, family instability, loss of resources, and other shocks from this crisis. Our support is extremely critical, now more than ever.

HNYC will meet these challenges head on, by providing resources to reverse both summer learning loss and loss from the “COVID-19 Slide”. We will continue to do everything we can to provide our community with the academic enrichment and support they deserve, ensuring all students have equitable chances to succeed.