Program Spotlight July 15

Reading is FUNdamental  Program Spotlight: Summer Literacy

Summer is not just a vacation from school. For members at the Clubs, summer is a time to get ahead. A time to learn new things, have exciting new experiences (like performing in talent shows, going on field trips to orchards and dairy farms, and learning about healthier lifestyles); and it’s a time to catch up for those members who may be a little behind their peers. 

Working together with Winning, Inc., a project led by Phil Brooks (former Lake Michigan Catholic School principal), the Summer Literacy Program pairs members with reading coaches. The coaches help children who are struggling with reading and challenge those who are looking to improve. Coaches are on campus every weekday during the summer months.

The 10-week literacy program prepares children for successful life-long learning through programming that reduces summer learning loss and increases grade-level reading proficiency. 

Third grade reading performance is critical. Yet statewide, only 61% of students achieved proficiency last year. In Berrien County, where children attend 27 different schools across six districts, proficiency drops to 56%. Those numbers continue to decline in Benton Harbor public and charter schools.

The Club’s Summer Literacy Program has proven to increase reading performance an average of a ½ grade level over a 10-week summer session. More than 400 children participated in the project this summer. Members tell us they feel confident starting a new school year having enjoyed reading, learning new test-taking strategies, and improving writing skills.

We know that kids are not able to become life-long learners if they can’t read. Sometimes diagnosing that problem is as simple as a vision test. That’s where the Lions Club Project KidSight comes in. To help support the learning initiative, the Lions Club Project KidSight offers eye testing for children ages 1-17. With the goal of making sure every child has the opportunity to read and grow, the Lions Club also funds further eye exams and provides eyeglasses for those children without insurance or means.

United Way of Southwest Michigan, Target, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, American Electric Power, GE Capital, and the Benton Harbor Fairplain Lions Club are some of our supporters who help make these types of academic opportunities possible. It is only through our generous partners that we are able to offer this summer programming, as well as our after-school programs throughout the year—at a minimal cost of only $5 per member annually.
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