Literacy is a fundamental component of a healthy and productive life, but despite our best efforts in Evanston we continue to fall short in this area and we must do better. The Library plays a key role in our collective response. Studies show that “More than any other public institution, including the schools, the public library contributes to the intellectual growth of children during the summer.” With this in mind, the Evanston Public Library Friends and Evanston Cradle to Career are partnering with the Library to fight this “summer slide.” There are many kids who don’t read during the summer and start school in September having lost up to three months of learning. For some of these kids, it will be Thanksgiving before they catch up to where they were in June. This cannot continue. For nearly 50 years the Library has offered a summer reading program free of charge to the public. It offers fun and playful opportunities to foster critical thinking and independent reading – outside of the formal structure of the school. While the program is enjoyed by many, the community needs more. In an effort to expand the impact of this beloved program, Library staff actively seek strategic partnerships. This summer in support of Cradle to Career’s stated initiative to address community literacy, the Summer Reading Program will supply a special collections of books to be maintained within the Parks & Recreation Summer Camps and train counselors to incorporate 20 minutes of reading a day into the camp program. This intentional change will create a customized approach for hundreds and expand the reach of this long standing program to better serve some of our population who are most at-risk of losing ground over the summer. Today, the Library seeks additional funds to enable this valuable programming to expand in a way that is truly responsive to the needs of our community. Please join me!! Make a gift today and help me surpass my goal and strengthen our community today.