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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Summer Program Participants Gain +2.1 Grade Levels in 7 Weeks!

Also, United Way of Santa Barbara County selected as a TOP 10 Finalist for a National Award of Excellence

The results are in! 148 of the participants in United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Fun in the Sun (FITS) participants gained an average of + 2.1 grade levels in reading improvement scores by using Reading Plus!


FITS is 7-week summer enrichment program for low-income, academically-at-risk 1st-9th grade students. Research shows that poverty-level children lose an average of 3 months of learning or reading skills over the summer. Typically these students return to school in the fall and are they are at a disadvantage that has a highly detrimental cumulative effect. Intentionally designed to address Summer Learning Loss and the Achievement Gap through its comprehensive curriculum; FITS prepared its participants to confidently return to school this fall ready to learn!

United Way of Santa Barbara County launched FITS in 1997 with a handful of local youth nonprofits and served approximately 24 children, ages 6-12, at Ortega Park in Eastside Santa Barbara. Over the years, FITS served thousands of children and families, at a number of sites across the county, and to date, is the largest and longest running local collaboration in Santa Barbara County. The 2011 summer program was filled with engaging curriculum and fun learning opportunities for the children and families who participated. FITS is a collaborative effort of over 40 local organizations, working in a variety of ways to accomplish one goal: to have a long-term, positive impact on the lives of the children and families in our community by directly addressing Summer Learning Loss and the Achievement Gap.

United Way of Santa Barbara County selected as a TOP 10 Finalist for a National Award of Excellence

Fun in the Sun (FITS), a 7-week summer enrichment program for low-income, academically-at-risk students and their families was selected as a Top Ten Finalist for the National Award of Excellence for “Summer Learning Loss Program of the Year” by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA). FITS demonstrates positive academic and developmental youth outcomes and is inclusive in the summer planning process with community key stakeholders. 2011 marked the 15th year for FITS. In 1997, United Way of Santa Barbara County started FITS with a handful of local youth nonprofits and served approximately 24 children, ages 6-12, at Ortega Park in Eastside Santa Barbara. Over the years, FITS has served thousands of children and families, at a number of sites across the county, and to date, is the largest and longest running local collaboration in Santa Barbara County. For 15 years, FITS has carried out UWSBC’s mission and goals, but, in addition has followed the recommended goals of educators and thousands of community members. No other summer program in the tri-counties provides development by dozens of the best public and private service providers in our community.

Fun in the Sun directly addresses Summer Learning Loss and the Achievement Gap through its comprehensive curriculum; preparing students for the new school year come fall. This past summer 148 FITS participants gained an average of +2.1 grade levels in reading improvement scores by using Reading Plus part of United Way of Santa Barbara County’s United for Literacy Initiative! Teachers and parents report that measurable results such as this only supplement the noticeable difference in the children’s attitudes toward learning, reading and character, providing confident students ready to learn this fall in our local schools.

About United Way of Santa Barbara County:

United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has the unique and positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local non-profit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership™ priorities help children, families & seniors with a focus on Education, Income and Health.

Fun in the Sun is a summer learning program component that is a part of United Way of Santa Barbara County’s United for Literacy (UFL) Initiative. UFL was developed to help achieve United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Education goals to increase on-time high school graduation rate by 50% and increase students reading at or above grade level by 50% in every grade.

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