Program Aims to Reduce Summer Learning Loss and Boost Reading ProficiencyReady.Set.READ!, managed by United Way of Berks County, has partnered with the Berks Community Health Center, Customers Bank, the Reading School District and the Reading Housing Authority (RHA) to provide literacy activities to children in the Oakbrook Housing neighborhood in an effort to reduce summer learning loss. The program is offered from June through mid-August to children, ages 2 – 12, in the identified area. This program is designed to meet the needs of low-income children by engaging them in literacy related activities on a daily basis around the neighborhood’s Summer Food Service Program, which is supported by the RHA and Reading School District. Literacy activities may include reading books, writing stories, vocabulary building, word recognition, and learning games. Varied community organizations are partnering with the program, including The Reading Public Library, who will have their mobile technology van on site weekly, Building 7 Yoga plans to incorporate “reading yoga” and Barrio Alegria will feature artistic performances during the summer program to compliment the literacy activities. It is estimated up to 100 children will participate in the program.Successful participants – children participating in at least 75% of the program days – will earn a bike and helmet, courtesy of Customers Bank. Summer learning loss describes what happens when students lose academic skills over the summer months. According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLL), it is one of the most significant causes of the achievement gap between lower and higher income students. The NSLL also reports during the summer months low-income children lose two to three months in reading skills while higher-income children make gains. By fifth grade, these reading loses can leave low-income students 2 ½ to 3 years behind their higher-income peers, and subsequently contributes to dropping out of high school.United Way is also working with the Summer Learning Coalition to address the learning loss issue by expanding literacy opportunities. The group has compiled a county-wide summer learning activity directory, which is housed via 2-1-1, the community information and referral service. Families are encouraged to learn more about summer learning by calling 2-1-1, by visiting pa211east.org or by texting their zip code to 898211.