United Way Suncoast is collaborating with the Sarasota Y and University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)’s College of Education in launching the Summer Arts-Integration Literacy (SAIL) program. SAIL is part of United Way Suncoast’s Summer Care program, designed to help break the cycle of generational poverty through educational programs that give children the skills to succeed.
SAIL addresses the disparity of elementary schoolchildren from low-income families in Sarasota who need access to the same resources and opportunities as their peers in higher socioeconomic brackets. The program is an extension of the Sarasota Y’s Camp Incredible wherein a select number of camp participants who are reading below grade level have access to a structured reading curriculum and receive one-on-one literacy tutoring (via two 45-minute sessions a week, eight weeks total) from USFSM students. These undergraduate and graduate-level teacher candidates in the College of Education’s Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching have received training at The Ringling’s Education Center on how to pair literacy tutoring with arts education.
“United Way Suncoast is proud to initiate the SAIL program and work with such high-caliber partners on improving early literacy,” said Katie Knight, Sarasota area president of United Way Suncoast. “Eighty-eight percent of first-grade students reading below grade level will continue to do so in the fourth grade without extra support like SAIL. In bringing together an array of Sarasota community resources driven towards a common goal, we’re able to provide a wonderful program like SAIL as a result.”
SAIL’s purpose is two-fold: One, collaborating with Sarasota Y provides a literacy program focused on preventing summer reading loss by embedding reading lessons and tutoring in the Y’s summer camp. Secondly, the USFSM collaboration develops education students’ skills and expertise in literacy, evaluation of teacher-child interaction, and arts integration.Education students will utilize the arts to teach social studies-themed reading material, encouraging the “reading” of art works to help understand historical and cultural contexts.
“Playing a vital role in helping more children in Sarasota read at or above their grade level is important to us,” said Kurt Stringfellow, president and CEO of the Sarasota Y. “We are proud to collaborate with United Way Suncoast and USF Sarasota-Manatee in expanding our summer camp program to help children strengthen their literacy skills.”
A steering committee oversees the program throughout its duration, with periodic meetings to discuss progress, solve problems, and develop changes to the program based on real-time performance data of the youth campers. 30 percent of Sarasota County children are not fully prepared to enter kindergarten or are not reading at grade level by third grade. Summer, when children are out of school, is a particularly vulnerable time. Research data shows:
- Children living in poverty lose the equivalent of two months of reading skills during the summer. This learning loss is compounded so that at the end of their elementary school experience, they may be three or more years behind peers.
- Two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summertime learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.
“The generosity of United Way Suncoast in funding this visionary summer arts education program enables vital community resources to collectively impact the learning of our most vulnerable citizens: Our children,” said Terry A. Osborn, regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs (formerly dean of the College of Education) at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. “This one-on-one teaching opportunity will better prepare our teacher candidates for fall internships in area elementary schools. The more experienced they are in the classroom, the better the outcomes for themselves and their students.”