San Mateo County Libraries Receives Innovation Award

Inspiring Summers Program Reverses Summer Learning Loss

Contact: Nicole Pasini, Deputy Director of Library Services
San Mateo County Libraries
(650) 312-5251

On October 12, the Urban Libraries Council announced that San Mateo County Libraries was one of the twenty most innovative libraries in the nation in recognition of its Big Lift Inspiring Summers program, which serves low-income children and reverses summer learning loss.

Big Lift Inspiring Summers is a rich academic and experiential learning summer camp, and the kind of experience that is usually out of reach for low-income families. The five-week program provides Kindergartners through 2nd graders with project-based, hands-on STEM learning activities, healthy meals, exciting field trips, and books to fill home libraries.

In 2016, San Mateo County Libraries served 753 children at six school sites in the South San Francisco Unified, Jefferson Elementary, La Honda-Pescadero Unified and Cabrillo Unified School Districts. In 2017, the Libraries served 1,297 children at eleven school sites, by expanding to work with the Ravenswood City, Redwood City and San Bruno Park School Districts.

Big Lift Inspiring Summers is a collaborative effort between San Mateo County Libraries, the County of San Mateo, the San Mateo County Office of Education, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and the seven school districts above. This program was made possible by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors who committed funding from Measure K, a countywide half-cent sales tax extension for local needs.

Every summer, low-income youth lose two to three months in reading while their peers from higher-income families make slight gains. As a result of participating in Inspiring Summers, children in the 2016 program gained an average of one month of reading skills; in 2017, children gained an average of one and a half months of reading skills through the program.

“This program has the scope and impact to significantly improve the reading levels of our county’s most vulnerable children,” said Supervisor Carole Groom, District 2, who serves on the Libraries’ Governing Board.