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INDIANAPOLIS — A program in Marion County is looking to bridge the “summer slump” gap. Indy Summer Learning Labs is focused on catching students up, particularly students hit hard by e-learning.

“Not only are we dealing with the effects of COVID and e-learning, but we’re also combating that traditional summer learning loss,” Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis Chief Operations Officer, LeeAnn Harris said.

The program is offered this summer at 40 sites across Marion County. Some 5,400 students and enrolled, which is up from 3,000 last summer.

The Wheeler-Dowe Boys and Girls Club hosts one of the learning labs.

Harris explains from 8 a.m. to noon — students focus on subjects including math and English. In the afternoon, they enjoy “traditional” summer camp activities like physical education activities, S.T.E.M. labs, etc. Students also are provided meals throughout the day at the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“What’s unique about this program is students do a pre-assessment at the beginning and a post-assessment in the end. So we’re able to track in real-time students’ growth,” Indy Summer Learning Labs Project Director Dani Neal said.

“Summer learning lab program is really essential to the communities we serve. The young people in our communities were disproportionately affected by e-learning and the impact of COVID,” Harris said.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis is the largest out-of-school partner offering the learning labs. About 120 students alone are signed up for the program at Wheeler-Dowe.

“To be able to offer something like this that’s free, that’s safe, that’s encouraging for them — that’s a huge deal,” Neal said.

The program was born out of the pandemic through a partnership between The Mind Trust and United Way of Central Indiana.

Indy Summer Learning Labs is offered to students in the first through ninth grades.

“Last year saw a 27% increase in math and 20% increase in reading for students understanding vocabulary, so we know that this program works,” Neal said.

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