Programs That Take Play Seriously

In the spirit of a summer coming to a close and the start of a new school year, we want to highlight a couple of AmeriCorps programs that utilize play to teach important life skills and build confidence in the youth they serve.

Summer Learning Collaborative

School may be on summer break, but that doesn’t mean that learning has to take a back seat. The Summer Learning Collaborative, a program in Delaware, “transform[s] educational outcomes for low-income students by equipping community-based institutions to execute extraordinary summer learning programs”. In other words, summer means opportunity.

Image via summercollab

According to their website, “by working closely with camp and school leaders throughout the year, SummerCollab helps summer institutions act as a precise support to students. Through engagement with cognitively rigorous curriculum and pullout services that build student skills, our campers return to school in the fall better equipped to engage with academic content. An intentional culture of achievement fosters close relationships between peers and staff, measurably boosting confidence and performance in the upcoming school year.”

We also recommend checking out their recent blog post on culture. “Sometimes it challenges you to just take a look at your own world through the lens of how someone else might view it, and is that carrying the message that you want them to take away?”


Playworks is hardly a “new” program – they’ve been around for more than 20 years, helping kids make the most of recess, nationwide.

Playworks “helps schools and districts make the most of recess through on-site staffing, consultative support, professional development, free resources, and more.” They answer the question of “Why play?” on their website. “From the satisfaction of breaking a sweat to the surprise of imagination, play teaches us to be human. In fact, societies depend on our ability to “play well together”. Through play, children discover the joy of physical activity. They learn the social and emotional skills they will use in the classroom, in the workplace, and in life.”

Image via Playworks

Playworks founder Jill Vialet says, “Play is a human right”. You can find ways to add more play into your day by checking out their recent blog post on the topic, or hear directly from a current AmeriCorps coach on the culture of Playworks.

You all are doing such incredible work in our communities, day in and day out, and we are proud to be a part of supporting that work. If you want to see your program featured on our blog, or have an idea for a story, send us an email at We’d love to hear from you!