2020 Passport to Summer Learning Goes Virtual

June 15, 2020

Annual citywide summer learning initiative for 15,000 Providence K – 5 school children will kick off on June 22

Now in its seventh year, the Passport to Summer Learning program has converted to virtual for 2020.  The project’s partners — Providence Public Library (PPL) and Providence Community Library (PCL), along with the Providence Public School Department (PPSD) and Providence Mayor Elorza’s Office — have adapted the multi-dimensional program in order to continue to provide Providence school children in grades K – 5 with necessary summer reading as well as learning and enrichment opportunities during the ongoing pandemic.  The project has evolved over time to include many community partner organizations that traditionally offer students and families experiences throughout the summer which, in combination with reading at least 20 minutes a day, help mitigate summer learning loss.

The Passport to Summer Learning website (https://www.provlib.org/passport-to-summer-learning/) will continue to be the primary portal for participating students and families and has been updated to reflect the virtual Passport for summer 2020. The site will also link to the updated PPSD summer learning website. The Passport site includes library, learning, and community resources and will feature partner sites that are offering virtual programming and online content, including Roger William Park Zoo, The Rhode Island State House, and more.  It will indicate some that have opened or will be opening over the course of the summer.  Content will be mobile friendly.

Printed books and materials will still play a part in the 2020 Passport’s largely virtual makeover. PCL and PPL have developed Passport to Summer Learning Takeaway Bags with different themes loosely tied to the PPSD curriculum: Nature, Animals, Ocean, Mysteries, Family, Food & Nutrition,Music and Universe. We will be working with Providence Children’s Museum and its Americorps team, to assemble these 8,000 bags (1,000 available each week over eight weeks) and begin distribution on June 22.  Each bag will include a book, activities and supplies to provide students the opportunity to engage in a variety of experiences while practicing social distancing. The bags will be available through curbside pickup at libraries and can also be mailed out to families if they so choose.

As part of the Passport’s efforts to encourage daily reading throughout the summer, students will log their minutes on a new summer reading platform, Beanstack, provided statewide by RI’s Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) with funds from The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). On Beanstack, students may also complete challenges and earn badges for the chance to win raffle prizes. For increased access, Beanstack has a mobile app as well.

“Providence Public School Department data analysis from the past number of years has shown that this program has significant positive outcomes for early literacy students (K – 2) especially, and we know that a strong start in the early years may provide stronger readers by 3rd grade and beyond, says Anne Kilkenny, M.Ed, Early Childhood Services Coordinator/Children’s Librarian at PPL, and one of the initiative’s developers.

Providence Community Library Director, Cheryl Space, remarked “with this year’s summer reading program, our libraries must meet the additional challenge of keeping kids learning while safely socially distanced. The weekly Passport to Summer Learning Takeaway bags, filled with stimulating materials to engage curious young minds and support diverse learning needs, provide an exciting solution.”

Providence Children’s Museum is excited to continue to support the passport and summer reading programs as a partner organization, and to provide new online activities so that children and their families can play and discover together at home. Our AmeriCorps members are thrilled to be able to find new ways to serve the families and communities they support during their term of service by building library kits. AmeriCorps team members know how important it is for building a love of learning, that 8,000 children will now have their own mini library.

The Passport to Summer Learning, an innovative program aimed at addressing summer learning loss and mitigating achievement gaps among children in grades K-5 with the least access to community assets and educational resources, is currently in its seventh year. Presented by PPL, PCL and The Providence Schools, Passport to Summer Learning is a collaboration with community organizations across the city of Providence, including Providence Parks, Providence Children’s Museum, Roger Williams Park Zoo, RISD Museum, Farm Fresh RI, and more. Passport to Summer Learning encourages families to get out in our community and spend time together by promoting and connecting them with engaging, enriching, free activities offered in and around the city by our collaborating partners and other organizations.

The statewide Rhode Island Summer Reading Program is supported by the RI Office of Library and Information Services, with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Providence’s Summer Reading Program, including the Passport to Summer Learning, is a proud partner in this statewide effort with funding from United Way of Rhode Island, and the many generous donors of Providence Community Library and Providence Public Library.