Education Nonprofits Expand Access to Summer Learning

With sum­mer under­way, local edu­ca­tion orga­ni­za­tions are expand­ing sum­mer pro­gram­ming in response to a restruc­tur­ing of Teton Coun­ty School Dis­trict #1 (TCSD #1) Sum­mer Learn­ing pro­gram. Coombs Out­doors, Teton Lit­er­a­cy Cen­ter, and Teton Sci­ence Schools will each expand their pro­gram offer­ings to include free oppor­tu­ni­ties for youth that will ensure a safe and enrich­ing sum­mer expe­ri­ence. These oppor­tu­ni­ties will sup­port not only local chil­dren, but also their work­ing parents.

In the midst of COVID, TCSD #1 received an increase in fed­er­al grant fund­ing to address learn­ing loss and edu­ca­tion­al gaps result­ing from the pan­dem­ic and pro­vid­ed the dis­trict the oppor­tu­ni­ty to tem­porar­i­ly increase pro­gram­ming. Those grant funds have been ful­ly expend­ed, mean­ing the school dis­trict is forced to return to its pre-pan­dem­ic lev­el of sum­mer pro­gram­ming. To address this reduc­tion in fed­er­al grant dol­lars, ear­li­er this year, dis­trict staff brought the changes to their sum­mer learn­ing pro­gram to Sys­tems of Edu­ca­tion (SOE), a col­lec­tive of youth ser­vice and edu­ca­tion providers focused on ensur­ing equi­table access to out-of-school learn­ing. SOE mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions prompt­ly eval­u­at­ed where there was poten­tial to expand their offer­ings, and three have been able to add free pro­gram­ming for stu­dents nom­i­nat­ed by dis­trict staff. With grants and coor­di­na­tion from the Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion of Jack­son Hole total­ing $135,000, these orga­ni­za­tions have col­lec­tive­ly added more than 450 par­tic­i­pant weeks of pro­gram­ming this summer. 

Col­by Mitchell, Back­bone Leader of Sys­tem of Edu­ca­tion stated, I’m heart­ened by the lev­el of col­lab­o­ra­tion that has made this expan­sion pos­si­ble. TCSD#1 staff have been incred­i­bly help­ful in con­nect­ing stu­dents who would ben­e­fit the most to the right oppor­tu­ni­ties. At the same time, pro­gram providers are mak­ing a mon­u­men­tal lift in scal­ing up their pro­grams and have kept the needs of the stu­dents at the very core of their work. It’s not sur­pris­ing, but it’s deeply inspiring,” 

When we learned that resources for TCSD #1’s sum­mer learn­ing pro­gram had been reduced, we were imme­di­ate­ly dri­ven to action to find a way to sup­port fam­i­lies and chil­dren in our com­mu­ni­ty who would be impact­ed by the change in ser­vices,” said Jen­ny Wol­from Hol­la­day, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Coombs Outdoors. We feel for­tu­nate that the Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion of Jack­son Hole both heard our con­cerns and were com­pelled to lead an ini­tia­tive to orga­nize and fund a part­ner-based solu­tion. With the logis­ti­cal and finan­cial sup­port of the Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion of Jack­son Hole, Coombs Out­doors has been able to add 24 more par­tic­i­pant spots per week for our nine weeks of sum­mer pro­gram­ming, total­ing 1,080 addi­tion­al camper days or 216 addi­tion­al camper weeks for sum­mer 2024. This addi­tion­al sup­port cre­at­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for five more posi­tions on our sum­mer staff and led to the pro­mo­tion and hir­ing of sev­er­al for­mer Coombs par­tic­i­pants into lead­er­ship and instruc­tor roles at the orga­ni­za­tion. While this capac­i­ty expan­sion is a sig­nif­i­cant lift for our orga­ni­za­tion, we are inspired and hum­bled by the rein­force­ment from this com­mu­ni­ty and are proud to be able to fill a gap in resources for fam­i­lies with our engag­ing out­door recre­ation programs.” 

In addi­tion to this effort to expand access to sum­mer pro­gram­ming, One22 Resource Cen­ter, with finan­cial sup­port from the Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion of Jack­son Hole, admin­is­ters the Youth Enrich­ment Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram for sum­mer and extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties. For more infor­ma­tion on this pro­gram, please vis­it the One22 Resource Cen­ter web­site.

About the Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion of Jack­son Hole 

The Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion of Jack­son Hole strives to improve lives through phil­an­thropic lead­er­ship. This includes act­ing as a leader, cat­a­lyst, and resource for our com­mu­ni­ty. We make grants, pro­vide excel­lent donor ser­vices, and ensure the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of our phil­an­thropic com­mu­ni­ty. We do these things well because we lis­ten to our com­mu­ni­ty. We are com­mit­ted to open­ing our minds to pos­si­bil­i­ty. This has led us to launch three Ini­tia­tives that focus on the root caus­es of com­mu­ni­ty chal­lenges, includ­ing: Behav­ioral Health, Hous­ing Solu­tions, and Edu­ca­tion and Fam­i­lies. Our team is smart and flex­i­ble but that is not as impor­tant to us as our desire to cre­ate a sup­port­ive envi­ron­ment where we can make mean­ing­ful change with our non­prof­it part­ners, and in turn, the com­mu­ni­ty at large. We talk things through, and then we inno­vate and imple­ment them. We believe in con­nec­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion, com­pas­sion, and curiosity. 

About Coombs Outdoors 

Jack­son Hole is known for its nat­ur­al beau­ty and world-class out­door sports. How­ev­er, there is a large pop­u­la­tion of chil­dren and fam­i­lies who do not have access to the same oppor­tu­ni­ties as their peers. In an effort to cre­ate a healthy com­mu­ni­ty where all our chil­dren reap the ben­e­fits of spend­ing time out­side in nature, Coombs Out­doors pro­vides year-round out­door pro­gram­ming for youth from kinder­garten through high school graduation. 

Coombs Out­doors begins with basic instruc­tion­al pro­grams that intro­duce kids to a vari­ety of activ­i­ties to spark a pas­sion for the out­doors, then adds a cohort-based men­tor­ing com­po­nent in mid­dle school to help youth build deep rela­tion­ships with their peers and trust­ed adults, and final­ly, works with high school youth to pro­vide paid intern­ships, per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment work­shops, resources to explore careers and col­lege oppor­tu­ni­ties, and sup­port to become pas­sion­ate out­door enthusiasts. 

Coombs Out­doors vision is a com­mu­ni­ty in which youth feel sup­port­ed, con­nect­ed, and inspired. 

About Teton Lit­er­a­cy Center 

Teton Lit­er­a­cy Cen­ter is a fam­i­ly lit­er­a­cy cen­ter focused on chang­ing lives through the pow­er of lit­er­a­cy. We offer free and acces­si­ble pre­ven­tion, inter­ven­tion, and enrich­ment aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram­ming for fam­i­lies with chil­dren Pre‑K through 12th grade. Our goal is to strength­en lit­er­a­cy skills for the fam­i­ly unit. We pri­or­i­tize indi­vid­u­al­ized instruc­tion through acces­si­ble pro­grams, stu­dent cen­tered learn­ing, data dri­ven instruc­tion, and teacher reflec­tion. We believe in pro­vid­ing authen­tic, per­son­al­ized lit­er­a­cy learn­ing expe­ri­ences that lead to stu­dents’ and fam­i­lies’ suc­cess in class­rooms, careers, and our com­mu­ni­ty. We val­ue com­pre­hen­sive sup­port for the entire fam­i­ly, under­stand­ing that we can make the most impact by work­ing togeth­er with fam­i­lies to sup­port their children’s lit­er­a­cy devel­op­ment. We val­ue col­lab­o­ra­tion with our com­mu­ni­ty and vol­un­teers to pro­vide the high­est lev­el of ser­vices and expand our stu­dents’ worldview. 

About Teton Sci­ence Schools 

Teton Sci­ence Schools inspires curios­i­ty, engage­ment and lead­er­ship through trans­for­ma­tive place-based edu­ca­tion. For near­ly 15,000 learn­ers per year, the place-based approach increas­es engage­ment, learn­ing and com­mu­ni­ty impact. Locat­ed on four cam­pus­es in Jack­son, Wyoming and Teton Val­ley, Ida­ho, our pro­grams include one inde­pen­dent school serv­ing stu­dents 18 months through 12th grade, Out­door Learn­ing Expe­ri­ences for schools and vis­i­tors from around the world, Wildlife Expe­di­tions, and edu­ca­tor development.