Last month in Minneapolis, it was about 43 degrees, but the City Connects Coordinators there were still planning for summer.
In a summer fair held on Zoom, the coordinators met with community organizations to learn about programs that they can refer students to for academics, enrichment, and fun. This is especially important now, following the past year of pandemic-related social distancing and disruption.
Sharing information about these programs with families is a core part of the City Connects model. We know that to do well in school, students have to be well outside of school. That’s why we connect students to homework help and food assistance. It’s also why we connect them to arts and sports programs: enrichment outside of school, can help them thrive during school.
Community organizations are essential in this effort. We connect these organizations with kids. And the organizations provide creative activities with unique elements for all children and for children with special needs. Among the Minnesota summer options coordinators are sharing:
The Relentless Academy
Founded in 2019, this program offers underserved students “affordable and accessible S.M.A.R.T. (Science, Math, Art, Reading, Technology) programming.” It also places a special emphasis on financial literacy.
Keystone Community Services’ Community Kids Program
This academic program’s focus is on math and reading, but there’s also tons of enrichment, including arts, gardening, nutrition, tennis, basketball, and disc golf (played with flying discs, instead of golf balls).
This center for creative writing offers 50 summer writing camps for children of all ages. There are classes for tweens and teenagers, as well as a class for budding six-to-eight-year-old writers.
Stages Theatre Company
The plan is to hold in-person summer theater camps and classes — and also to offer virtual options. In addition, the company has a program for students ages 10 to 17 who are on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory sensitivities.
This STEM-based program focuses on robotics, engineering, and technology. The program takes a play-based approach. Instead of dry presentations, kids are learning by doing. It‘s a much more engaging way to teach things like sports science and gear ratios.
In addition to summer programming, SteppingStone offers free lunch to all students who register in full-day, week-long camps. The camps also have a “pay as you’re able” policy that could mean “covering your fees and someone else’s. It could also mean paying half or some of the fee.”
Northside Boxing Club
Located in a former fire station, this is a drop-in program where students learn about nutrition, physical fitness, and boxing. Local restaurants have provided meals for students, but since the pandemic, the club is also teaching kids to cook to make up for some of the meals that have been lost because of restaurant closings.
Coordinators will share these ideas with parents using personal, print, and electronic communication. It’s all part of the work of getting the right services, to the right child, at the right time over time so that they can have exciting summers that help boost their curiosity so they can thrive when they go back to school — and as they move through their lives.