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Summer Slugger

An unfair game? Some students spend weeks at summer camps sharpening their skills, while other children in high-poverty areas may spend their entire summer off the academic playing field.

According to the American Camp Association, the average day camp costs over $300 a week per child. That’s nearly one-third of the median household’s weekly income.

It’s increasingly clear which group always finds itself on the losing team. We want our kids to win, but if summer is their off-season, then we’ve already kept some kids from training.

Related: A summer program uses the arts to combat the achievement gap

For young people in communities across the United States, summer vacation is often when the greatest opportunity gaps in their lives will begin.

Last year, Major League Baseball and EVERFI traveled to DREAM Charter School in Harlem to talk to students about using their academic ‘off-season’ to sharpen their skills. The school, which already incorporates baseball into its educational programs, was a natural fit for MLB’s new initiative, Summer Slugger — a baseball-themed digital math and literacy program that allows students to hit home runs with word problems and strike out batters through multiplication and division. Since then, Summer Slugger has helped nearly 38,000 students across North America, with 16 MLB clubs supporting the program in their markets.

The platform uses social gaming, animation, video and other tools to teach and reinforce critical math, vocabulary, reading and study skills in ways that meet students where they learn today — on mobile phones, tablets and computers.

”Players and clubs demonstrate dedication and determination throughout the summer months, inspiring their youngest fans to dream big and set ambitious goals.”

High school dropout rates, workplace readiness, and inter-generational trends reflect a vicious cycle. According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose two months of mathematical skills each summer, and students from low-income households tend to lose another two to three months in reading.

By the time they enter middle school, low-income students without access to summer learning opportunities are typically two to three academic years behind their more affluent classmates. By the beginning of high school, summer learning loss can account for 66 percent of the income-based achievement gap.

Related: Baltimore summer school does the seemingly impossible — the kids actually want to be there

For over a century, long summer recesses have co-existed with another American tradition: professional baseball. On the diamond and in the stands, students have found friendship, instruction and inspiration. From extraordinary athletes to thrilling match-ups, MLB players and clubs demonstrate dedication and determination throughout the summer months, inspiring their youngest fans to dream big and set ambitious goals.

This summer, at least 16 MLB clubs have provided educational experiences to hometown students through partnerships with community organizations, corporate sponsors and over 400 schools across the country.

All-Star and minor-league students alike deserve a fair shot at succeeding when the academic season begins in the fall. By registering students through, we can equip our kids to take on new challenges and win in the classroom. Together, we can take meaningful steps to strike out summer learning loss.

This story about summer slugger was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for our newsletter.

Tom Brasuell is vice president of community affairs for Major League Baseball.

Tom Davidson is CEO of EVERFI Inc.

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