Just over a month ago, the New York Times published an article called “The Families That Can’t Afford Summer”. They explain that while “most kids lose math skills over the summer, low income children also lose, on average, more than two months of reading skills — and they don’t gain them back. That puts them nearly three years behind higher income peers by the end of fifth grade, and the gap just keeps getting wider. R\u200besearchers credit the summer slide for about half of the overall difference in academic achievement between lower and higher income students.”\u200b We know that this is exactly what happens in our community: the cycle of poverty is reinforced as many are left at home for the summer, with only a television to watch and their siblings to take care of. T\u200bheir lack of learning opportunities creates a bleak cycle that they seem doomed to repeat: every year, our girls could fall behind their more affluent peers: their opportunities could diminish, their desire to do well in school could decrease, and their ability to continue learning could dwindle. This is why Martinez Street Women's Center created the Girl Zone Summer Camp. \u200bGirl Zone provides a space where our girls are excited to continue learning and growing, to ensure that when they go back to school in August they are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. We continue building on the progress they’ve made in school and in our after-school program by providing them with outstanding learning opportunities that include the following topics: coding, poetry and performance, math, environmental science, art (through the creation of the East Side mural), evidence-based sex education, service learning, health and fitness, nutrition, and positive coping skills. This free Summer Camp runs five days a week for seven weeks, serves 75 girls, and includes three nutritious and healthy meals per day. We give girls the opportunity to explore their world, the tools to achieve their dreams, and the platform to inspire their peers, and I can say with the utmost confidence and pride that we are achieving that mission every single day: • Last year, 100% of our girls were promoted to the next grade level. • 97% of our students had an attendance rate of 90% or higher, meaning they’re choosing to attend school more frequently than their classmates. • 98% of our girls maintained positive, or lowered their personal risk assessment scores throughout the duration of our program. We are so proud of the work that we’ve done, and we’re excited to keep building with our community. If you’re interested in learning more about our programs or making a contribution, you can reach out to our team at (210) 534-6638 or visit mswomenscenter.org.