Roaring Fork Valley 2017 Report


Research shows that children living in low-income communities who do not have access to high-quality summer learning programs historically lose over two months of academic skills every summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Cooper et al, 1996; Downey et al, 2004; Alexander, Entwisle & Olson, 2007). The Summer Advantage program harnesses the power of summer learning to help children (called “scholars”) raise their achievement; improve their self-esteem; and aspire to be leaders in their communities, their nation, and the world.

Program Description

Summer Advantage is one of only two summer learning models in the nation proven to raise student achievement. Our model offers rigorous, research-based academic instruction in the mornings; a wide variety of hands-on enrichment classes in the afternoons; a healthy breakfast and lunch; daily recreation; and educational field trips, college campus visits or a “college fair,” and/or scholar-led community service projects on Fridays.

Scholars who attended our 5-week Colorado program in 2017 gained an average of 1-2 months of grade equivalent in reading and 3-4 months of grade equivalent in math skills, as opposed to losing up to three months of skills as their average peers would.


In the summer of 2017, more than 600 scholars in grades K-4 were enrolled in our Roaring Fork Valley program.

Program Dates and Hours

Our program provided children with five weeks of high-quality summer programming. Dates for 2017 were June 26, 2017 – July 28, 2017. (Dates for 2018 are June 25, 2018 to July 27, 2018.) Each week, scholars attended our program Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

Program Sites

Children participate in the program at the following sites: Basalt Elementary School, Crystal River Elementary School, and Sopris Elementary School.


Summer Advantage employed nearly 100 staff members this summer, including Program Managers, Assistant Program Managers, Operations Administrators, Teachers, and Teacher’s Assistants. By employing high-performing teaching staff this summer, our program maintained a teacher-to-student ratio of no more than 1 to 12 to ensure more individualized attention for our scholars.

Professional Development

All staff members were provided with 45 hours of pre-service training. Staff members receive approximately 15 hours of training through self-paced, online learning modules. Summer Advantage also provided 30 hours of face-to-face professional development for staff that took place the week of June 20-24 prior to the program’s start. In-person training was led by nationally-recognized Summer Advantage trainers and covered topics such as Data-Driven Instruction; Partnering Effectively with Parents; Collaborative Teaching; Effective Behavior Management and Classroom Culture; and Maximizing Small Group Instruction.


This summer, our scholars gained on average 1-2 month in grade equivalent reading skills and gained 3-4 months of math skills, based on STAR reading and math tests, a nationally-normed assessment.

Average Daily Attendance

Our program was again well-attended this year; on average, over 92% of scholars attended the program daily.

Enrichment Classes

Scholars had the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-life problems, as well as to explore their interests, in two hours of daily afternoon enrichment courses. Below are some examples of the classes offered:

  • Health and Wellness: Scholars engaged in holistic activities targeted to enhance their physical fitness, mental focus, stress management, social skills, self-esteem, and life-long health.
  • Cultivating Environmental Stewardship: Scholars learned some of the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to shape a sustainable future using a curriculum provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • From a World Perspective: Scholars were exposed to a variety of diverse populations and cultural systems within the USA and worldwide.
  • Financial Literacy: Scholars learned about the importance of managing money and important 21st-century financial concepts.

Field Trips and Community Service Projects

A core part of our program is our Fun Friday experience, where scholars have the opportunity each Friday to build connections to their families, communities, and their futures. This year we invited scholars and their family members on a series of fun and educational field trips, which included a visit Aspen Mountain where scholars had the chance to enjoy nutritious meals, ride gondolas, and participate in guided outdoor hikes. Scholars also visited the historic mining town of Ashcroft, where they hiked, explored the old mining town and learned about the silver mining history of the area.

We stress the importance of high expectations for all scholars, and that includes emphasizing a postsecondary education for every child. Our program this year included a tour of a local college so that scholars can see what a campus is like and learn about the college experience, degree programs, and more. Our older scholars visited Colorado Mountain College. Each year, a different program is introduced to the scholars.

Satisfaction Rates

Summer Advantage also uses scholar, parent and teacher survey responses to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs. This past summer’s survey results indicated the following:

  • 97% of scholars felt that the adults at Summer Advantage cared about them
  • 95% of parents would recommend the program to others; and/li>
  • 100% of teachers would recommend the program to parents looking for an educational summer program.


We received numerous positive reports from parents regarding their perception of the program and the impact of Summer Advantage on their child:

“I am happy with the program! Thank you all for making a difference in my daughter’s life!”

“Alex really enjoyed Art and Science. Overall, he seemed happy with his classroom and always proud to show his art at the end of the day.”

“I have been thoroughly impressed with the program. I think the variety of activities they cover with the children is tremendous, like Nutrition and Field Trips. I am most grateful that Charlotte had the opportunity to attend this program. Thank you so much!”

One mother shared that, upon her family’s arrival in Glenwood Springs three summers ago, her son did not speak English. After participating in our program for three summers, he was able to surpass his grade-level peers and was recently invited to the high-ability program in Roaring Fork Valley School District.

Independent Evaluation

APA Consulting is completing a multi-year evaluation of our program. The Preliminary Outcomes found that our scholars improved 14 percent during the five-week program, moving from the 35% to the 49%, and started the new school year 1.8 months ahead of where they tested in the spring. This nearly doubles the outcomes of any other documented summer learning program.

Media Coverage

The impact of this year’s Summer Advantage program on Colorado’s children has been featured in various prominent local media outlets, including feature articles in
Public Radio
and the
Aspen Times

Thank You

These results would not be possible without the support and collaboration of Summit 54 and Roaring Fork Schools. We are very grateful for your support in helping children raise their achievement and expand their visions for what is possible in life.

Earl Martin Phalen / Founder & CEO / (617) 818-1959 /

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