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Horizons Seeks Support For Wednesday Fundraiser

Camp Best, a regular volunteer in the Horizons summer program, teaches social skills to elementary school students. Submitted photo

Members of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community have an important opportunity Wednesday (May 17) to support an innovative summer learning program operating on the University of Mississippi campus.

Horizons, a key initiative in the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement’s mission to fight poverty through education, is a six-week, full-day summer learning program that provides academics, enrichment and recreation to underserved students from the community.

Horizons aims to raise $20,000 to support its mission to eliminate summer learning loss. The UM affiliate will join other Horizons affiliates across the country Wednesday to raise money to expand existing programs and bring Horizons to more communities nationwide.

“UM’s Horizons program is creating summer learning opportunities for students in Oxford and Lafayette County school districts who otherwise might not have it,” said Albert Nylander, director of the McLean Institute and executive director for Horizons. “For six weeks, students are afforded an opportunity to be Ole Miss students on campus.

“UM students are also making a difference in the lives of these schoolchildren through their volunteer efforts in the program.”

Horizons offers a quality learning experience outside the traditional school year that supports academic achievement and healthy youth development.

Children who begin Horizons after kindergarten are invited back every summer for at least nine years. This long-term commitment means that children in Horizons will accumulate learning gains that will prepare them for success in college and their careers.

“Research shows that students not reading at grade level by third grade are unlikely to graduate from high school, and low-income students enter kindergarten already behind in literacy skills due to disparities in opportunity, vocabulary and nutrition,” said Laura Martin, assistant director of the McLean Institute.

“Summer learning loss compounds over time, so without programs like Horizons, students who experience summer learning loss can be as much as three years behind by the fifth grade. Horizons exists to eliminate summer learning loss and, over time, close the achievement gap in our community.”

Horizons will host 90 kindergarten-to-fifth-grade students from the Lafayette County and Oxford school districts this summer. On average, students who participated in the previous four summers started the school year at or above where they ended the previous year.

Horizons is a community-based program with a number of campus and community partners contributing students’ success.

For Horizons Giving Day, all Horizons’ staff, board members, partners, alumni, volunteers, donors, corporate partners, sponsors and supporters will come together for a friendly, yet competitive, race to raise $1 million for Horizons programs across the nation, with all money raised locally remaining with the local affiliate.

This one-day fundraising event has the potential to bring crucial resources to the children served by Horizons at UM. For more information, go to https://www.horizonsgivingday.org/donations/new?org_id=441094 or like Horizons on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/horizonsum.

By Edwin Smith

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