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District Summer Learning Network

  • United States
The Wallace Foundation
2021 - 2025

Through the District Summer Learning Network (DSLN), U.S. education leaders are rediscovering the power of summer learning. Implemented by FHI 360, DSLN helps districts redesign summer programs so they can nurture students’ social, emotional and mental health needs while preparing them for academic success. Through this effort, DSLN aims to accelerate learning and foster well-being for participating students — especially those from historically marginalized communities. This work has taken on new urgency in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on students’ mental health and academic progress.

DSLN has worked with more than 100 school districts across the country serving more than 2 million students to develop summer programs that provide transformational opportunities for young people. DSLN districts are defining a vision for summer that includes a focus on evidence-based practices, equity, whole child development, and strong district-community partnerships. These visions are captured in a three-year summer learning roadmap. State education agencies have joined DSLN to work on creating summer learning models and policies that promote strong and sustainable summer learning programs for all schools in their states. DSLN’s long-term goal is to create sustainable programs where every student can experience the joy and promise of high-quality summer learning.

"Participating in this network gave us a chance to learn from other districts across the country to ensure that their programs are rooted in equity and focus on whole child development. … [My team members] are now better positioned to advance our work because we have an entire network of like-minded professionals to lean on."

— Matt Brewster, Director, Office of Staff Development, Newark Board of Education

FHI 360’s DSLN team provides school districts with a range of supports at no cost thanks to generous funding from The Wallace Foundation. The supports include:

  • Individualized coaching from an experienced and knowledgeable consultant.
  • Opportunities to connect with other districts and develop solutions through collaborative learning.
  • Professional development workshops and events.
  • Evidence-based tools and resources, including The Wallace Foundation’s Summer Learning Toolkit, to facilitate the planning and implementation of summer learning programs.

FHI 360’s DSLN team has developed six tools to help districts transform their summer learning programs:

According to surveys the FHI 360 has conducted with DLSN districts, more than 95 percent of participants have found DSLN’s technical assistance to be effective in promoting evidence-based practices for summer learning. Districts have described improved application of evidence-based practices, more productive relationships with community partners, and a stronger focus on equity and holistic support for participating students.

DSLN continues to build on these successes, offering additional support to districts in managing change and strengthening program sustainability. Together, FHI 360 and its partners will share best practices, identify and address barriers districts face to creating transformative summer programs, and strengthen collaboration between state- and district-level leaders.

Hear some of our members reflect on how their work with DSLN has transformed their programs in the “DSLN Voices from the Field” video series.

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