Jun 20, 2013

Portland ConnectED Press Conference

ConnectEd challenge to take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success
MEDIA ADVISORY: For Immediate Release

Nicole Clegg, Dir. Comm.              Mike Dixon, Exec. Dir.
City Hall                                     Portland ConnectED
207-756-8173                            207-653-9854

When:     June 21st, 2013, 9:15 a.m. (ends by 10:00 a.m.)
Where:     Munjoy South Playground, Mountfort Street at Federal Street
What:        Portland Rising to the Summer Learning Challenge
Summary:    Mayor Brennan, Portland ConnectED, and Portland Children Take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success to Kick Off a Summer of Free, Healthy Meals and Active Learning throughout the City

    "Summer slide" leaves too many children losing ground
    Mayor calls on all to meet the challenge head on
    Friday, June 21st is National Summer Learning Day
    Expanded Summer Learning Offerings, including Bookmobile
    Expanded Summer Food Service of Free Lunches for All Kids
    Take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success

Too many children across the country, and right here in Portland, watch hard-won health benefits and academic ground slip away during the summer.  Join Mayor Michael F. Brennan and the partners of Portland ConnectED—including Portland Public Schools, Portland Public Library, and The Opportunity Alliance—at Munjoy South Playground on National Summer Learning Day to meet this challenge head on, to witness summer learning and summer meal service expansions in action, and to take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success.

Friday, June 21st is the first day of summer, but that does not mean that learning, growth, and activity should come to a stop.

Over a century of research shows that too many kids nationwide are likely to lose ground academically through the summer.  Additional research shows that kids are less likely to stay active or eat healthy meals during the summer, which further hurts their growth.  This "summer slide" effect is even more pronounced for low-income children, who can fall as many as three years behind their peers by fifth grade.  Since reading at grade level by third grade is a critical factor in a child's success later on, it is absolutely critical that students, families, and the entire community come together and rise to the challenge of ensuring healthy meals and active learning for every child throughout the summer.

That's why Mayor Michael F. Brennan and the partners at Portland ConnectED are seizing the opportunity this National Summer Learning Day to showcase summer learning and food service at its best.  And that's why the Mayor and Superintendent Manny Caulk are challenging parents, children, and caregivers throughout Portland to take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success.

Recognizing that grade-level reading proficiency is a critical factor in determining eventual high school graduation and later success, Portland ConnectED has teamed up with the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which offers tremendous experience and expertise in working to improve school readiness, to increase attendance, and to ensure active learning all summer long.

Thanks to the work of Portland ConnectED partners at the John T. Gorman Foundation, the Sam L. Cohen Foundation, Portland Public Schools, and the Portland Public Library, many more students in Portland will be able to access summer learning programs and other fun learning opportunities as the Bookmobile visits summer food and learning sites in every neighborhood.

Thanks to the tremendous work of partners at Portland Public Schools and The Opportunity Alliance, children all over Portland will have more access than ever before to free lunches at over two dozen summer food services sites—sixteen of which will be open sites offering free meals to anyone 18 or under—throughout the heart of summer.  Kids Katering, a food service program of The Opportunity Alliance, will prepare over 1000 meals per day at its production kitchen on North Street for delivery to kids in every neighborhood.

These are substantial steps in the right direction, well worth celebrating.  But we need everyone's help in ensuring that all kids stay active, access regular and healthy meals, and continue to have fun learning throughout the summer.  It will take commitment from parents, families, and caregivers to ensure that our children continue to grow, develop skills, and come back to school in September ready to hit the ground running and forge ahead.

Don't forget that the opportunity to expand active summer learning lies in the hands of each and every one of us.  The city of Portland—including its library, trails, parks, and landmarks—offers an entire campus of learning opportunities.  So take the Portland Pledge for Summer Success now, and help every child in Portland seize opportunities for healthy eating and active learning every day of the summer.

Please visit the Portland ConnectED web page or e-mail Portland ConnectED Executive Director Mike Dixon at to sign on to the pledge and to access more information on summer food service and summer learning.


Download a copy of this press release here.