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Duval school district gets $360,000 for summer learning

The Florida Times-Union

Duval County Public Schools

Duval County Public Schools is among five school districts nationwide to share in a $4 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to improve summer learning programs.

Duval and the other districts each will receive $360,000 to serve 720 youths this summer. The districts also will receive the same amount to provide the same number of summer learning opportunities in 2013.

The Walmart grant was provided to the National Summer Learning Association to provide more than 7,000 summer learning opportunities for middle-schoolers in promising summer learning programs run by the five school districts over the next two years.

These free programs will help students to avoid summer learning loss and return to the classroom ready to learn in the fall.

In addition to Duval County, the other school districts receiving a portion of the grant are Houston (Texas) Independent School District, Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District, Pittsburgh Public Schools and Providence (R.I.) Public Schools.

"These five school districts have recognized that summer learning is a vital strategy to raise school-year achievement for students and are national leaders in innovating new approaches to summer school," said Gary Huggins, chief executive officer of the National Summer Learning Association.

"We are grateful to the Walmart Foundation for its outstanding support of these districts and their important work to close the achievement gap," Huggins said.

Each of the district programs also will provide healthful meals to young people who, research shows, often have difficulty accessing federally funded meals during the summer.

The Food Research and Action Center announced last week that six out of seven children eligible for such meals during the school year did not receive similar meals during the summer of 2011.

"At Walmart, we recognize the need to support the development of our nation's youth," said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. "We know that providing access to learning programs during the summer months will enable students to return to school healthy, prepared, and ready to succeed. By working closely with the National Summer Learning Association, we can help kids have better summers and ultimately, better lives."

The grant continues the Walmart Foundation's support for NSLA and summer learning for middle-school youth, which began with an $11.5 million grant to NSLA to provide 20,000 high-quality summer learning opportunities in 10 other cities from Boston to San Diego.

That initiative, known as Smarter Summers, showed promising results in 2011, its first year. Two-thirds of Smarter Summers parents surveyed said that the programs were the only affordable summer learning opportunities available for their children.

Walmart's 2012 Summer Giving program is part of an ongoing, multi-year effort to support the health and development of our nation's children. To date, Walmart's efforts have impacted nearly 150,000 children, providing summer learning, summer meals, and summer jobs.