Summer Learning

Summer learning programs are essential to a young person’s academic and social development. The Youth Initiative unites the campus and community to offer summer learning and enrichment activities for more than 300 neighborhood children and youth from kindergarten to college.

  • Elementary School: Each summer, through our partnerships with Bailey Gatzert Elementary and the Youth Tutoring Program, we engage 60 rising first through fifth graders in summer learning. The seven-week intensive program focuses on math and reading skills.
  • Middle School: Upwards of 75 middle school students participate in summer learning programs. 50 students participate in a six-week program incorporating reading, math, and athletics. Additionally, 15 students participate in a robotics program.
  • High School:  We engage more than 130 high school students in a wide variety of programs aimed at high school and college transitions, academic enrichment, STEM, media, and career development.

Thank you to our community partners who make these summer learning opportunities possible:

  • Bailey Gatzert Elementary
  • City of Seattle Summer Youth Employment
  • City of Seattle Upward Bound
  • College Success Foundation
  • Garfield High School
  • Meredith Mathews YMCA
  • Multimedia Resources and Training Institute
  • RecTech
  • Rotary Boys and Girls Club
  • Washington Middle School
  • YMCA College Transition Program
  • Youth in Focus
  • Youth Tutoring Program (Catholic Community Services)

SUYI Summer Fellows. In partnership with Youth Tutoring Program (YTP) at Bailey Gatzert and Parks and Recreation (PALS) at Washington Middle School, we have 14 paid Seattle University students working with kids this summer to improve their academics and participate in enrichment programming.

  • Summer Fellowships serving Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI) youth | K - 4th grade: These fellows partner with the Youth Tutoring Program as classroom assistants for their summer programs. The fellowship will run from mid-June to mid-August and fellows will spent the vast majority of time working directly with young people. Once a week, fellows will meet as a cohort for reflection, discussion, and vocational exploration.
  • Summer Fellowship serving SUYI Organizations: These fellows partner with any organization that is connect to the SUYI. Fellows may or may not work directly with youth. Fellows will work with the program coordinator to identify an organization that fits their interests From early June to the start of the school year, fellows will serve 200 hours at the organization and spend 100 hours organizing and leading an event for incoming SU students (either a new student immersion or Serve Seattle). Once a week, fellows will meet up as a cohort for reflection, discussion, and vocational exploration.
  • Summer Fellowship serving with Seattle-area Nonprofits: These fellows partner with an organization that is working on a social justice issue that matches the fellows' area of interest. Fellows will work with CCE staff to identify an organization(s) during spring quarter. From early July to the start of the school year, fellows will serve 200 hours at designated organizations and spend 100 hours collaboratively organizing events designed for incoming SU students (during SU Welcome Week). Once a week, fellows will meet as a cohort for reflection, discussion, and vocational exploration. Three currently enrolled, continuing SU undergraduate students will be selected for this cohort.

One of the most important roles of the Youth Initiative is to combat the persistent problem of summer learning loss. For the past several years, we have partnered with Catholic Community Services and the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation to enhance their summer offerings at Gatzert and Washington Middle School, respectively. Each summer, SU Summer Fellows support classroom instruction, lower the student-teacher ratio and provide more personalized instruction. Our college students also infuse some fun into the day.

Summer breaks compound academic difficulties for students who lack access to educational summer experiences, especially those who are struggling to stay on track during the school year. According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose two months of math skills every summer, and low-income children typically lose another two to three months in reading. A Johns Hopkins University study found that summer learning loss during elementary school accounted for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income children and their middle-income peers by 9th grade. For many young people, the summer opportunity gap contributes to longer term gaps in achievement, employment, and college and career success.

During the Summer 2017,  we worked with a new partner, WA-BLOC (Washington-Building Leaders of Change), to launch a Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School for rising 6th graders. WA-BLOC has run successful Freedom Schools for the past two summers at Rainier Beach High School. Summit Sierra Public High School (a public charter school) has offered to host the program in its building in the International District. Rising 6th graders need extra support to make a successful transition to middle school. CDF Freedom School engages students in social action learning, building skills for the difficult transition into middle school. The model curriculum supports children and families around five essential components: 1) high-quality academic enrichment, 2) parent and family involvement, 3) social action and civic engagement, 4) intergenerational servant leadership development, 5) nutrition, physical and mental health.

Our Seattle U students are a crucial part of the intergenerational goals. College students and recent graduates will attend a CDF Freedom School training to prepare them for teaching and mentoring the younger children. Since 1995, over 137,000 children and families have attended a CDF Freedom School and 16,000 college students and young adult staff have been trained to deliver this empowering model.

Highlights from the middle school program:

  • 118 participants
  • 89% average attendance rate
  • 22 percentage points of growth in mathfrom average score on pre-test to post-test
  • 17 percentage points of growth in language arts from average score on pre-test to post-test

Highlights from the elementary school program:

  • 70 participants
  • 87% average attendance rate
  • 25 percentage points of growth in math from average score on pre-test to post-test
  • 15 percentage points of growth in language arts from average score in pre-test to post-test

Quick Links

Find more resources and opportunities below.

Student Involvement

Disability Services



ConnectSU logo