ECCF’s Greater Lawrence Summer Fund powers opportunities for low-income youth
For many kids, the anticipation of summer break is a feeling like no other. It’s a time to explore the open borders of nature, satisfy curiosities at summer camp and learn new skills at fun educational programs.
But for children from low-income families, summertime can be starkly different from that ideal, slowly ticking by without access to outdoor play or resources for hands-on learning. While their more affluent peers develop leadership skills, make friends and have fun, children without access to summertime opportunities struggle with idle time. And the opportunity and achievement gaps continue to grow.
The Greater Lawrence Summer Fund puts the FUN back in summer each year for thousands of children from Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and North Andover by supporting nonprofits that offer high-quality summer programming and provide for low-income kids with scholarships to enjoy things like summer camps, literacy programs and field trips. Founded in 1990 by Betty Beland, the GLSF, a fund of Essex County Community Foundation, has raised and distributed nearly $4 million to summer programs in Greater Lawrence.
“It is our duty as a community to come together to protect the wellbeing of every child within our reach and funding from ECCF’s Greater Lawrence Summer Fund does just that,” said Lorie Mendoza, executive director of Si, Se Puede, a multi-service neighborhood program for residents living in and around the Merrimack Courts Housing Project. The nonprofit’s summer program, Project Away, which provides both onsite and offsite learning enrichment experiences for youth, was one of 42 organizations to be funded by the GLSF in 2016.
“ECCF’s support is essential to our summer program, which helps to provide our youth with opportunities to expand their horizons, personal growth, safety and creativity,” said Mendoza.
The GLSF looks to its generous donors to help raise $325,000 each year to help nonprofits like Si, Se Puede provide opportunities to deserving kids in the Greater Lawrence area. In 2016 alone, 6,700 youth participated in programs supported by the GLSF, programs that gave kids the opportunity to sail, participate in sports, learn valuable life skills, connect with nature, gain exposure to science and technology and more.
“The Greater Lawrence Summer Fund is more than just a fund. It’s a safe haven for the thousands of kids who otherwise would not be able to take advantage of these amazing opportunities,” said Carol Lavoie Schuster, ECCF’s assistant vice president for philanthropy.
Over the years, hundreds of programs have been funded through the GLSF, including Lawrence Community Boating, the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, Prep at Pingree, ACT Lawrence, Beyond Soccer, Girls Scouts of Eastern MA, Groundwork Lawrence and Essex Art Center.
“As a collaborative fund, donations to the GLSF are pooled for maximum impact,” said Beth Francis, ECCF’s vice president for development. “But it really doesn’t take a lot to make one child’s summer a whole lot more memorable, productive and fun.”
A $100 gift provides a learning field trip for a child; $500 gives a child a chance to participate in a two-week literacy program; and $1,000 provides a child with 10 weeks of summer learning.
“Thanks to the Fund’s generous donors, these kids are given the chance to play on a more level field,” said Lavoie Schuster.
For more information about the Greater Lawrence Summer Fund, and to donate, please visit www.eccf.org/glsf-impact.