Did you know that students from low-income families lose about two months of reading and math skills every summer?

Those losses can begin to add up. By the time a student is in fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave students from low-income families two to three years behind their peers, according to the National Summer Learning Association, NSLA.

Locally, YouthQuest is working to combat those numbers by giving students from all backgrounds the tools they need to succeed. The program offers summer enrichment programming for K-12 students, which is held four days a week over a period of six weeks.

“Students have far fewer opportunities for reading, writing and problem-solving during the summer, making them more likely to experience the ‘summer slide,’” says Rhetta Hunyady, Vice President of Education & Training at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “Our goal is to keep students learning by providing programming that appeals to young people in a fun way.”

As part of YouthQuest’s summer program, students participate in a variety of activities and field trips that encourage the exploration of new interests in the areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), and promote academic achievement, physical fitness, youth leadership and volunteerism.

The program also provides participants with a nutritious lunch, which is especially important considering that many youth go without during the summer. In fact, according to NSLA, six out of every seven students who receive free- and reduced-price lunches lose access to healthy food once school lets out.

For middle and high school students, the program includes all of that – and more.

Called “Summer on the Road,” YouthQuest’s offering for 7th through 12th graders aims to promote college and career readiness via field trips and fun activities. In addition to roller skating excursions, bowling and more, students will be able to choose from introductory classes in screen printing, electrical wiring, and other interesting subjects, as they visit Baker College of Flint and Genesee Career Institute.

The older students will cap off the summer with a weekend trip to Washington, D.C.

“Many families struggle with regularly providing their children with activities and trips that keep them engaged during the summer months,” Hunyady says. “Programs like YouthQuest can help fill that gap and prevent students from falling behind before they return to school in the fall.”

To learn more about summer programming, which kicks off in mid- to late-June, visit www.yquest.org.

YouthQuest is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.