Friday, February 26, 2016

Help Youth Leap Ahead

by Jim Struthers, Assistant Director, Communities Program / Chief Development Officer

We hear about the learning gap facing many youth in our school systems. But what does that mean?

A quick check on the Glossary of Education presents this: “[The] Learning gap refers to relative performance of individual students—i.e., the disparity between what a student has actually learned and what students are expected to learn at a particular age or grade level.

That gave me something to measure the problem against. Are kids able to read at the right grade level at the right time? Then I thought about the kids our grants help. Some come from underserved neighborhoods, their families often struggling to make ends meet. If you’re having problems at home, knowing arithmetic may not seem like that big of a deal to some.

However, the learning gap can become a bigger issue if left unresolved. Once a child falls behind, if they don’t receive the tutoring and assistance to bring them up to speed early in their education, the gap continues to expand. As the gap widens, it can be even harder for students to catch up, leading to kids struggling academically. Becoming frustrated, they often give up trying with many dropping out of school.

This is a serious problem. It affects not only their future but also the strength of our communities, today and tomorrow. We need to make sure kids of all ages have the tools they need to receive a solid education and realize their full potential.

Today on Leap Day, the McCormick Foundation and our Media Partners are Leaping the Learning Gap to raise awareness of the issue and also generate donations to fund programs so kids don’t fall behind. For every dollar raised, the McCormick Foundation will add another fifty cents – do the math. That means donations leap farther, doing more good.

Together, we can give kids the opportunities to leap the gap so they can learn, grow and succeed.

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