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The Barnes Foundation developed a program for children in underserved communities. Photo: Getty Images.
The Barnes Foundation developed a program for children in underserved communities. Photo: Getty Images.

Philly orgs team up to create Summer learning pods for children in underserved communities

Summer programs in Philly are out to reverse the trend of last year’s widening early childhood education gap.

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As Philadelphia continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, children and families are also beginning to plan Summer events.

One local event developed by the Barnes Foundation is Early Learner Summer Pods, a free program designed to introduce children to environmental education workshops, art lessons, outdoor activities, and other educational ventures.

The project focuses on giving children the opportunity to learn and have fun while also promoting community engagement and early access to education before the new school year begins.

The Barnes has also partnered with seven other organizations from the Philadelphia area for the program, including Fairmount Water Works, Fleisher Art Memorial, Please Touch Museum, and several other institutions..

The program is aimed at children from underprivileged communities that are five and younger.

“The summer offers a critical opportunity to narrow the developmental gaps of the past year, and our goal with the Early Learner Summer Pods is to offer a variety of free programming across the city for six weeks to support early learners’ social, emotional, language, and literacy development,” Barbara Wong, director of community engagement at the Barnes Foundation, said in a press release.

The program began on July 8, and will continue to offer free activities throughout Aug. 13. The Barnes initially wanted to begin the program providing children with safe activities as the city is still reels from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply disrupted access to high-quality early development and learning opportunities for children, posing deep setbacks that jeopardize the potential of long- term achievement for many — particularly for low-income families who have been hardest hit by the myriad impacts of the pandemic,” Wong said.

In addition to the free workshops being offered, the foundation is also distributing free activity kits to children living in the city.

The initiative also taps into other activities that involve hands-on science projects, story time sessions, and other experiences.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only affected jobs and businesses, but also early childhood education. 

The Barnes hopes to reverse last year’s downturn with a vital experience for children and parents.

“The summer offers a critical opportunity to narrow the developmental gaps of the past year, and our goal with the Early Learner Summer Pods is to offer a variety of free programming across the city for six weeks to support early learners’ social, emotional, language, and literacy development,” said Wong.

There are many other learning opportunities set up for the next few weeks, including workshops listed below:

The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University

Discover, Play, Share: Summer Family Fun

STEAM, literacy, and fun family activities.

  • Aspira Inc. 4322 N. 5th Street, July 28, 5 – 8 pm
  • Congreso de Latinos Unidos 216 W. Somerset Street, July 24, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; August 4, 5 – 8 p.m.
  • Sister Cities Park 210 N. 18th Street, July 13 & August 10, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • The Academy of Natural Sciences 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, August 7, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The Barnes Foundation

Barnes Early Learner Summer Pods

Outdoor performative storytelling, art making, and kits.

Serving ages 2 – 5 and families from West Philly Playstreets and South Philadelphia.

July 6 – August 12, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

  • Mondays at the Philly Playstreet Mantua 3500 Mt. Vernon Street
  • Tuesdays at Philly Playstreet Kingsessing 1438 Vodges Street
  • Wednesdays at Mifflin Square Park 500 Wolf Street
  • Thursdays at Ford PAL Rec Center 609 Snyder Avenue

For more information on the Barnes Foundation and its Early Learner Summer Pods, please visit their website.

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project among more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.

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