Contact: Michelle Durand, Chief Communications Officer
San Mateo County
San Mateo County Libraries' innovative efforts to eliminate summer learning loss, especially among low-income youth, and maintain the educational momentum of the school year was honored with a National Association of Counties 2016 Achievement Award.
The national recognition in the "libraries" category shines a well-deserved spotlight on the Summer Learning Camps program led by San Mateo County Libraries (SMCL). Now in its third year, the camps program focuses on children in communities with high numbers of students reading below grade level and advances literacy by engaging both the youth and their families.
The camps are a direct response to extensive research that show that during the summer months children can lose an average of two months of instruction — roughly 22 percent of what they learned the previous school year. Using funds from Measure A, the voter-approved half-cent sales tax, the Board of Supervisors supported expanding summer programs. The results are indisputable: in 2015, 43 percent of youth improved their instructional reading level by at least one grade and 100 percent of youth either improved or retained their instructional reading level.
The NACo award illustrates that the camp program not only thrives in San Mateo County but can serve as a model for other locales nationwide with similar literacy and learning challenges.
"We're proud to be a leader in the community supporting critical needs such as summer learning, early learning, and literacy. We are honored that the Libraries' contributions in these important areas are being recognized, and we are grateful for our partners and families for joining with us to provide quality summer programs for kids,"- Anne-Marie Despain, Director of Library Services.
In 2015, San Mateo County Libraries offered 1,520 high-quality learning and literacy programs to children and youth. That same year, 58,719 children and youth — or, 38 percent of the youth population — participated in the Summer Learning Challenge.
"Reading is a gift. To go to the library and pick a book off a shelf is a doorway to a whole new world. San Mateo County Libraries ensure that every student has their best chance at success. Literacy is so important and I am so proud of our County, our libraries, our staff and our partners for working together in promoting literacy,"- Supervisor Carole Groom, District Two.
The NACo award is the latest honor for SMCL which was also recently a finalist for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service — the nation's highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community — and for seven consecutive years has been rated a "Star Library" by the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service.
San Mateo County Libraries is a Joint Powers Authority that comprises the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Woodside and the unincorporated areas of San Mateo County.
NACo will present the award at a luncheon during its 2016 Annual Conference and Exposition in Los Angeles County in July.