HARTFORD, CT – Governor Ned Lamont on Friday said that an evaluation released on the impact of Connecticut’s 2021 Summer Enrichment Grants show that the initiative successfully helped reengage thousands of students in time for the return of in-person learning in the fall, following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during the previous school year.
The grant program was created in April 2021 by Governor Lamont with the intention of helping connect students during the upcoming summer months to high-quality enrichment opportunities, particularly in communities that were most impacted by the pandemic. It was administered by the Connecticut State Department of Education and supported by more than $8.6 million in federal funding the state received for COVID-19 recovery efforts.
To examine its impact, an evaluation was completed by the Connecticut COVID-19 Education Research Collaborative, a first-of-its-kind research collaborative of public and private universities in Connecticut that was recently established by the Connecticut State Department of Education to evaluate the effects of the pandemic on education and the impact of relief funding investments. The collaborative conducted student and site supervisor surveys, conducted site visits, and hosted focus groups with students and staff.
The evaluation found that:
- More than 108,000 students were served across 235 grant recipients;
- The initiative met its goal of expanding access to summer programming for Connecticut students, including nearly doubling the number of students among camps that also operated in the summer of 2020;
- Nearly 39% of camps offered scholarships or fee waivers to all of their students, and nearly 56% of students received a scholarship or fee waiver to attend a summer camp;
- Both survey and interview data indicate that students overwhelmingly enjoyed their camp experiences; and
- All staff were offered free training to support students’ social-emotional wellbeing and played a central role in students’ enjoyment and engagement in the summer programming.
“The findings released in this study show that summer enrichment opportunities are an important component of keeping students engaged between academic years, and by releasing these grants we were able to significantly increase access to these programs, particularly because many of them used these grants to provide scholarships and fee waivers to students,” Governor Lamont said. “After a challenging school year, our goal was to increase access to the terrific summer camps, childcare centers, and other summer programs Connecticut has to offer. The success here shows why we should continue this grant program during this upcoming summer.”
“The goal of our 2021 Summer Enrichment Grants was to reengage students with peers and supportive adults in preparation for the school year, and we are proud to see they did just that,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker said. “It is clear that summer enrichment that supports social-emotional well-being and academic engagement is a key strategy to accelerating learning, which is why we are excited to continue the grants this summer.”
The report and its findings are being used to inform the 2022 Summer Enrichment Grants. Information regarding the application period for this year’s summer grants will be announced soon.