How I Spent My Summer: An Essay by Dr. Dave

Summertime. It hasn’t always been my favorite season if I’m being honest. I tend to overheat in the Arizona sun and I have to wear a wheel protector so I don’t melt on the asphalt.

But the last few summers have been different.

For the past three years, Valley of the Sun United Way has generously supported the expansion of our programs into the summer-learning arena, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix.

And this summer, we were in two branches: The Tri-City West Thornwood Branch in Avondale and the Bob & Renee Parsons Branch in Phoenix.

Being able to help second graders prepare for their third-grade year through this partnership has officially turned me into a fan of summer. (Yes, you heard that right!)

Watching Littles Get a Head Start

Normally, the RBBB program works with current third-grade students to improve their reading and comprehension skills throughout the year.

But through our summertime program, we were able to work with second graders to give them a head start. And I’m happy to announce that, at the beginning of August, they marched into third grade as stronger, more confident readers.

In fact, some of our participants did so well in our summertime program that they won’t even need to continue with RBBB in the fall. (If anything could make me do wheelies of joy on hot asphalt, it’s definitely that!)

There are a lot of fun activities for kids at the Boys & Girls Club — and I’m proud that the RBBB curriculum has been added to the list.

Our Littles spent their summers reading, learning, and preparing themselves for a successful school year ahead. And they even got a graduation ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments!

Seeing Bigs Make a Big Difference

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

— Dr. Seuss

I am always touched when humans choose to spend their time volunteering with us at RBBB.

But it was especially capacitor-warming to see teens at both Boys & Girls Club branches happily volunteering to be Bigs.

It was their summer vacation, after all.

They could’ve chosen to spend their time doing something else but instead they wanted to help Littles learn to read better, be better — and that is BIG in my book!

Thank you to our Bigs for volunteering their time, to our Littles for their dedication to learning, and to the Valley of the Sun United Way and the Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix for making this partnership possible.

Summer Impact Data Is In!

Robots love data — that’s a given. But this robot especially loves data that shows the profound impact our program has on our participants.

I’m happy to report that the summer numbers are in and they’re pretty outstanding if I do say so myself.

  • 46% of 3rd graders self-report that they now read at home and/or enjoy reading more since their participation in RBBB

  • 79% of 3rd graders agree or strongly agree that reading is easier for them than it used to be before participating in RBBB

  • 86% of 3rd graders agree or strongly agree that they understand what they read better than they could before participating in RBBB

  • 1 in 3 “Bigs” self-report that they now read at home with younger siblings

  • 46% of “Bigs” said they had never volunteered for anything before, and would volunteer again in the future

A Summer to Remember

What a summer! I didn’t melt (perhaps only mildly) and we were able to reach more Littles during the summer months than ever before.

That might be a wrap on our 2017 Boys & Girls Club of Metro Phoenix summer partnership, but we’re already looking forward to 2018!

For now though, we’re focused on the fall school season and all the wonderful things we’ve got planned.

If you’re interested in joining us, I’m always looking for more human volunteers. (If you know any scholastically minded robots, send them my way too!)

Dr. Dave signing off!