"The idea of investing early in reading and investing during the summer in reading keeps kids from having to confront the summer slide, but also helps them to get to reading at grade level by the third grade," Hughes said.
Hughes' reference to third grade is based on studies which show students who are not reading at grade-level by then are more likely to struggle academically and ultimately drop out.
In its second year, Hughes said the program will expand significantly, with about 300 students in first through fifth grade expected to participate, compared with 70 last summer. It will run four days per week from 9 a.m. to noon and operate at three sites: West Philadelphia High School, on Chestnut Street near 49th; Cook-Wissahickon Elementary, on Salaignac Street near Righter; and Ethel Allen Elementary, on Lehigh Avenue near Douglas Street.
Students will get free breakfast and lunch, and take a brief assessment at the beginning and end of the program to measure the impact, Hughes said.
The Neubauer Family Foundation, Wells Fargo and Walmart are among the donors who are providing supplies and a stipend for the 20 teachers.
"We really want to take this to scale," Hughes said. "We want to get into the thousands next year and really make this a part of every child's summer."
Space is limited. To register, call 215-879-7777 or visit www.senatorhughes.com.
On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol