The Museum serves low-income preschool and elementary school-aged children year-round through MuseumCorps, our AmeriCorps program. This school year, MuseumCorps members provided stimulating hands-on learning experiences to 1,300 children in Head Start and out-of-school time programs in disadvantaged communities in Providence and Pawtucket. New this summer, we are expanding summer enrichment programming, designed to combat summer learning loss in math and reading skills, to serve another 200 children.
Children living in poverty often lack enriching opportunities that children from affluent families have – quality preschool, after-school and summer programs, exposure to cultural organizations like museums, travel, even shared reading in their homes – leading to a shocking achievement gap.
The Nellie Mae Education Foundation reports that children in all socioeconomic groups learn at the same rate – at least when it comes to basic skills – during the school year. Nearly all of the differences in achievement between poor and middle class children are rooted in the inequities they experience beyond school, namely in early childhood learning and out-of-school time opportunities. These inequities are especially pronounced during the summer months. Studies show that all children lose an average of 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in math skills over the summer. But while middle class children continue to learn or hold steady in reading and language skills, lower-income children lose ground, resulting in an average gap of three months in reading skills.
Clearly low-income children are most in need of academic support and enrichment, and Museum Learning Clubs serve a critical need. We’ve added 4 new MuseumCorps members to our existing team of 12 and together they will serve 15 groups of kids at Boys & Girls Club in the Fox Point and South Side neighborhoods of Providence, Capital City Community Centers (Smith Hill Summer Program), Highlander Charter School, Louie's Place at South Providence Neighborhood Ministries, Nickerson House Community Center, Pawtucket Child Opportunity Zone and Silver Lake Community Center over the summer.
Under the guidance of our MuseumCorps members, these kids will design paper airplanes and gliders to discover the properties of air, track the sun's movement through a sun spotter telescope, investigate the wonder of nature by handling worms and dissecting owl pellets, explore problem-solving and design challenges as they conduct “egg drop” experiments, and try plenty of other fun and engaging hands-on activities that will curb their summer learning loss.
Learn more about the importance of summer learning in Rhode Island from RI After School Plus Alliance (RIASPA).