Summer of Opportunity is Focus of U.S. Education Secretary's Visit to Philadelphia

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will host a roundtable discussion with students, parents and community partners who are working together to expand opportunities for youths in Philadelphia on Friday, May 22. He will emphasize the need for summer enrichment and employment opportunities that empower students to pursue their interests while building the key skills they need to succeed in college and their careers. Duncan will also highlight the nearly $40 million in federal and philanthropic investments in Philadelphia since President Obama announced the designation of West Philadelphia as a Promise Zone in January 2014. Mayor Michael Nutter and Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite will join Duncan as hosts of the roundtable. A media availability will follow.

Research shows that when students lack summer learning opportunities, they can lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math skills, and that disadvantaged students can lose more than two months in reading achievement. This disparity in summer learning opportunities contributes to gaps in academic achievement between disadvantaged students and their higher-income counterparts.

The Obama Administration's commitment to expanding opportunity has resulted in the creation of Promise Zones, which includes Philadelphia and several other large urban cities, and My Brother's Keeper initiatives. In Philadelphia, the work of key partners is bolstering job creation, increasing economic activity and improving educational opportunities. These efforts aim to ensure that young people have equal access to opportunity and the ability to reach their full potential.

These community partnerships encourage students to reach higher, which is why First Lady Michelle Obama also is working to rally the country around the President's goal for America to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady's effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.