On June 29th, the Sizzling Summer Enrichment Program (SSEP) wrapped up its third year of providing reading enhancement and fun activities to Columbus Public Schools (CPS) students just completing kindergarten through second grade. With the goal of boosting learning during the summer break, SSEP served an average of 35 participants each of the 16 mornings that it operated during four weeks in June. Research shows that while all children are at-risk of losing some of their academic skills during the summer months, low-income students typically lose 2-3 months in reading while their higher-income peers make slight gains. For that reason, SSEP gives preference to students participating in the Free and Reduced School Lunch Program or having other risk factors; although, the program was also able to serve families not fitting those criteria and charged a reasonable fee. CPS was able to transport students needing a ride from several pick-up locations and for those families choosing to participate, SSEP also provided a meal at the Summer Lunch Program held at Emerson Elementary. The very popular field trip to the Horn T Zoo in Monroe was a highlight for participants as SSEP entered the final week.
Funded by the Zero 2 Eight Coalition with grant monies from the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, SSEP is a coordinated effort between CPS, the United Way and Zero 2 Eight as well as several community partners providing the enrichment activities. Those partners included the Columbus Public Library, the Columbus Arts Council, Columbus Family YMCA, East Central District Health Department, Platte Valley Literacy Association and the 4-H Program with the Platte County Extension. We thank the excellent staff and all those providing their skills to engage the SSEP kids which resulted in an excellent program. SSEP is just one way your United Way is working to ensure the educational success of all children.