Jun 30, 2016

June 30, 2016
Mayor’s Press Office

Mayor Emanuel today joined city departments and agencies to kick off the 2016 summer of learning for the city’s youth with the “Explore Chicago, Discover Your Future” campaign. The campaign, generated in collaboration by several city departments, is designed to keep youth ages 4 to 24 engaged in safe, meaningful and productive activities during out-of-school time. This year’s summer activities include more than 200,000 in-person opportunities for young people to engage, along with new opportunities to participate in digital learning, which has expanded by 80 percent over last year to reach more youth and prevent summer learning loss. 

“Each of us has a role in keeping our children safe and engaged, which is why we are increasing our investments to provide new opportunities to help youth build skills, explore the city, and discover their full potential,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I would encourage families to take advantage of these new opportunities this summer, so children are prepared to hit the ground running on the first day of school.” 

Mayor Emanuel created the Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) in 2013 to provide youth with access to meaningful opportunities to learn, work and excel year-round. The largest youth learning initiative of its kind in the country, CCOL is led by Digital Youth Network (DYN) at DePaul University and works to remove barriers to learning outside of school by teaching young people to think in a way that allows them to cultivate and pursue their interests while staying engaged in learning. 

Recognizing that summer academic programming has a direct benefit on a child’s preparedness when they return to school in the fall, CCOL provides school-aged children with summer programs and activities to prevent a summer learning loss that could affect academic outcomes in the subsequent school year. To engage youth and to keep students prepared for the upcoming school year, the City has invested this year in following new and expanded opportunities: 

  • 100,000 students to participate in Chicago City of Learning—an 80 percent increase over last year; 
  • 100,000 students to participate in Rahm’s Readers summer reading challenge; 
  • 84,000 children to participate in expanded Park District programming; 
  • 30,000 youth employed through the Mayor’s One Summer Chicago youth jobs program; 
  • 10,000 students to receive free online summer enrichment through a CPS initiative, CPS Connects; 
  • Addition of a second Mobile Learning Lab, which will allow the program to serve more than 3,000 children in underserved communities with digital learning opportunities; 
  • Free attendance to Chicago’s museums during the week of August 29 for Chicago Public School students; and 
  • Endless opportunities for children to engage in free digital learning and enrichment through the Chicago City of Learning. 

CCOL has been recognized nationally for the opportunities it provides to engage students in learning and enrichment. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has lauded the benefits of the comprehensive and coordinated approach through CCOL, namely with the Founder’s Award last year, which recognized the Chicago Public Library for preventing summer learning loss via the Rahm’s Reader’s Summer Learning Challenge. 

Summer learning loss—or the ‘summer slide’—is an issue that disproportionately impacts children already at risk for school failure. Research from Chapin Hall suggests that participation in programs like Rahm’s Readers provide families and students a meaningful and accessible way to narrow that gap and improve academic outcomes this fall and moving forward. 

“In addition to the noted benefits of Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge, Chicago’s commitment to year-round learning opportunities is a significant step forward as we work on a national scale to meet each of our children where they are and improve academic outcomes for all,” said Sarah Pitcock, CEO of the NSLA. “We are confident that Chicago’s expanded programming this year will allow learners of all ages to realize the academic benefits of staying engaged when they return to school this fall.” 

This summer, a wide range of programs are provided by the city’s departments, museums and cultural institutions, as well as community organizations to keep youth safe and engaged. An exhaustive list of program and engagement opportunities available this summer, along with information on how to sign up, is below: 

Chicago Public Library 

CPL expects 100,000 children to participate in their 2016 summer program, up from 50,000 in 2011. Additionally, the Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge will continue to engage children (age 0-13) and their families all over the city in academic programs and activities over the summer. These will include 1,950 on-site science, technology, engineering, arts, math (STEAM) and literacy programs delivered by children’s librarians or professional storytellers, science educators from Museum of Science and Industry, musicians and artists at all 80 libraries. 

Chicago Park District 

This year the Chicago Park District has grown capacity to accommodate over 84,000 young people this summer. Of this total, more than 40,000 youth will participate in the popular summer day camps, up from 30,000 participants in 2011. Last summer, the Park District served approximately 65,000 youth in programming, ranging from swimming to gymnastics and more. Campers play sports, participate in art and cultural activities, attend field trips and read at least 20 minutes a day. Spaces are still available. For information, visit your local park or the website at 

Chicago Public Schools 

CPS will provide in-person opportunities for 24,000 students who are among the most at-risk and/or require academic remediation to stay on track for grade-level requirements. Additionally, CPS will support the 7th year of the Safe Haven program which will serve more than 100 sites with safe alternatives in target communities. 

With a goal of serving 10,000 students, CPS has launched the Connects Summer Learning Challenge, a 10-week challenge running through September 3. Through the Chicago City of Learning, students can connect their Khan Academy account to participate in digital curriculum covering themes like history, science, language and arts, math, computer science, and coding. Students who complete digital curriculum requirements will earn CPS Connects digital badges, and will be eligible to win rewards and unlock additional resources to support their learning. 

Mayor Emanuel’s One Summer Chicago 

One Summer Chicago 2016 has added new opportunities for youth ages 14-24 to contribute their skills and talents to Chicago’s vibrant communities, with a record 30,440 youth employed—more than double the number of summer jobs the city offered when Mayor Emanuel took office. 

Growing the program each year is a priority for Mayor Emanuel, due to the strong demand by thousands of youth each year to become engaged and employed. Opportunities this year are available in industry areas ranging from urban agriculture and outdoor forestry projects, to bike repair and office and clerical work. One Summer Chicago has added new employer partners through the Chicago Cubs, Hyatt and Navy Pier. This year CPS and the Chicago Police Department are piloting a new program for 300 high school students to receive summer job training and make a contribution to their community by working to restore the auditorium at their home school. 

Department of Family and Support Services 

In addition to overseeing youth employment under the Mayor’s One Summer Chicago program, the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) provides more than 9,400 opportunities through youth development summer camps, which include: recreational activities, sports development, cultural arts programming, weekly field trips, digital designs, music, writing and service learning through a Positive Youth Development model. During youth development camps, youth learn to develop healthy lifestyles, create goals, develop leadership skills, cultivate secondary educational achievement, build self-esteem while developing skills and positive relationships that will last a lifetime. 

DFSS also provides child care programming at sites around the city for 1,000 school-aged children 5-12. These programs provide opportunities to participate in sports, arts and culture, academics and technology, and are tailored to the child’s age and to nurture the physical, emotional and mental development of children. 

Chicago City of Learning 

The Chicago City of Learning (CCOL), a year-round model for learning, was grown out of the Chicago Summer of Learning, and expanded to provide children with innovative in-person and digital opportunities both during and outside of the school year. CCOL oversees the majority of digital opportunities this year, including the digital badges that CPS students can earn for successfully completing any one or more of the summer learning programs offered this summer. 

Through CCOL, the City has plans underway to engage over 100,000 students over the course of the summer through its digital badging program. This is an 80 percent increase over last year. CCOL digital learning opportunities will provide youth unlimited opportunities to engage in learning and enrichment activities remotely from a computer of their choice, at all hours of the day, this summer. 

To reach children and fill opportunity gaps in underserved communities, CCOL also provides Mobile Learning Labs, or a van acting as a mobile classroom to bring computers and computer learning to neighborhoods across the city. The program’s first van was sponsored by Best Buy. This summer CCOL is adding a second van – sponsored by CHA - and the two vans will serve an additional 3,000 youth at over a dozen locations in Chicago. 

Chicago Housing Authority 

In addition to sponsoring mobile learning vans, CHA will provide children with more than 70,000 free meals. 

Museums in the Park 

A new partnership with Museums in the Park will provide CPS students with free access to the following museums throughout the week of August 29th: 

  • Adler Planetarium 
  • Art Institute of Chicago 
  • Chicago History Museum 
  • DuSable Museum of African American History 
  • The Field Museum 
  • Museum of Contemporary Art 
  • Museum of Science and Industry 
  • National Museum of Mexican Art 
  • National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture 
  • The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum 
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium 

For more information, please visit