ROCK ISLAND, Ill. -- The Summer Enrichment Initiative (SEI) in Rock Island received a huge boost thanks to a generous $18,897.00 grant from the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation for Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) materials.  LLI is the primary curriculum used by SEI but unavailable to staff and the children they serve at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center until now.  The LLI system is a short-term intervention that supports children who do not read at their grade level.

The grant will allow teachers at the King Center to have the same tools used throughout the Rock Island-Milan School District as well as provide consistent measurements with other SEI sites.  Spring Forward Learning Center (SFLC) is managing SEI in Rock Island.

“This grant is about supporting efforts to decrease summer learning loss for children in Rock Island. It will have a huge impact, not only this summer but for many summers to come,” says SFLC Director Dan McNeil.

The mission of summer enrichment in Rock Island and Milan is to bridge summer learning loss and meet the needs of children and families in the community by providing high quality programs in literacy and math.


Research has established clear links between children's reading performance in the early grades and their future academic success. These links are especially significant for children from low-income communities whose chances of graduating from high school drop dramatically depending upon years living in poverty and their reading level by the end of third grade.

“I am a proud graduate of the Rock Island-Milan School District and can attest that when opportunities are made available students can realize their full potential,” Ascentra President and CEO Dale Owen said.  “We are very pleased that the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation will be able to help the Summer Enrichment Initiative and support the great work that is done at the Martin Luther King Center.”

According to researchers, summer reading loss plays a particularly critical role in exacerbating the reading gap between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers. Specifically, during the summer breaks, low-income students have been shown to lose more than two months in reading achievement while their middle-class peers actually make slight gains.  Moreover, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University revealed that two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap between higher- and lower-income youth may be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during their elementary school years.