What We Know about Summer Programs and Virtual Learning: A Thought Leader Session

Can large, urban school districts successfully run high-quality summer learning programs? If so, how? And what impact can these programs have on students? And how are these programs working in a time of covid and social distancing?

The Wallace Foundation, the RAND Corporation, and five urban school districts explored the first three questions as part of the National Summer Learning Project, a six-year effort to provide voluntary, district-led summer programs that offer a mix of academic instruction and enrichment-and test whether they help boost students’ success in school.

In December, Karen Pittman sat down with Catherine Augustine from the RAND Corporation and Melanie Claxton with Pittsburgh Public Schools, one of the five communities involved in the project, to explore their engagement with the study and the results and lessons learned.

Since then, we’ve experienced a summer like no other, and Karen once again spoke with Catherine and Melanie to explore how districts have adapted to this new form of virtual educational engagement, and what lessons may be applied to virtual or hybrid school environments for the 2020-21 school year.


  • Catherine Augustine, Director, RAND Pittsburgh Office; Senior Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation
  • Melanie Claxton, Coordinator, Out-of-School Time, Pittsburgh Public Schools
  • Karen Pittman, Co-Founder, President, and CEO, the Forum for Youth Investment