Summer Stories of Resilience Through the Arts from the YA Network

July 23, 2020 |

As students face a summer unlike any before, we know that opportunities to combat 'summer slide' have never been more important. We continue our Resilience Through the Arts column with a look at the efforts of YA affiliates to transform summer programming and provide students with valuable academic and social-emotional support.



Typical summers at Young Audiences of Houston (YAH) are filled with public programs. Despite recent challenges, the organization continues providing accessible learning opportunities in the arts.

YAH has adapted its popular Come and Explore: Summer Bridge Program, a teen-developed literacy camp that addresses systemic issues around access and equity in Houston’s communities and schools, into a virtual format. The program provides students and their families with at-home arts and literacy activities to reduce learning barriers and combat summer learning loss. As part of the program, high school students serve in virtual mentorship roles while introducing younger students to arts-based and integration content. Working alongside YAH master teaching artists, these High School Mentors will gain valuable leadership skills and work experience over their summers.

Over the next several weeks, YAH will be hosting a series of free summer performances that celebrate the resilience, vibrancy, and global spirit of the Houston community. Around the World Performance Series will showcase live-streamed music and dance from YAH teaching artists and arts partners.

Additionally, to better equip its artists for creating virtual programs, the organization has converted its conference room into a makeshift recording studioBy building a strong framework for virtual programming this summer, YAH hopes that these innovative new formats will help make arts opportunities more accessible to community partners and children.  



Working with neighborhood schools through summer lockdowns, Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) hopes to make its communities brighter, stronger, and more creative.

YA’s Chicago-based affiliate is hosting free online summer arts-integrated learning programs based out of multiple Chicago Public Schools (CPS). These online programs reach students, adult community members, and whole families across the nation’s third largest city. Summer classes are co-led by CAPE teaching artists and CPS teachers, who work in partnership to envision, create, and teach online projects. Each class is uniquely designed through a process of shared inquiry and artistic research. This summer program is funded by three 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grants, a program of the US Department of Education and the Illinois State Board of Education.

Throughout the summer, CAPE is also partnering with Artists’ Cooperative Residency & Exhibitions (ACRE) to bring in resident ACRE artists from across the country to dialogue and collaborate virtually. With a focus on inquiry-based and collaborative teaching practice, the partnership provides professional development to support teacher-artists relationships. Topics of exploration include family engagement and language arts disciplinary integration.



For the past six years, Young Audiences of Maryland (YAMD) has been helping students in Title-1 Baltimore City Schools fight summer learning loss with its Summer Arts and Learning Academy (SALA). During a summer when learning opportunities are more vital than ever, YAMD is offering SALA as a free five-week virtual learning program (#SALA from the screen!), which will serve 1,500 Pre-K through 5th grade students across the city.

Through the virtual academy, students will bond with one another (in SALA Squads) as they collaborate on creative challenges and team-building activities that promote arts integration. Students will also receive regular one-one-on time with a dedicated adult educator – either a teacher or teaching artist – who will offer them personalized academic support and a safe space for discussing and expressing their feelings.

YAMD’s innovative summer programming – including its at-home hands-on art kits (Arts & Learning Snacks), and a curriculum-based TV show (Arts & Learning Kids) created in response to COVID-19 – earned the organization a recent spotlight in Education Week and a feature piece in Next Generation Learning

Through this summer and beyond, YAMD looks forward to sharing its digital content with all Baltimore City students and families.