Office of Student and Family Support (SFS)

2021 Summer Learning Opportunities — Additional Information

On Friday, April 30, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the availability of more than $70 million in funding and resources for school districts and community organizations to offer summer learning and recreational programs that will help students, who have been impacted by a year of remote and hybrid learning, grow academically and socially. Below are additional details on several of the opportunities described that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will be administering. See also the summer learning flyer . We will update this information as more information becomes available.

Acceleration Academies

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will help school districts, including charters and collaboratives, launch Acceleration Academies, which allow students to learn and build skills working intensively on one subject in small, hands-on learning environments with excellent teachers.

Students benefit from small class sizes, longer uninterrupted instructional blocks, individualized attention, project-based lessons and teacher flexibility for learning time. The Baker-Polito Administration will commit up to $25 million in grants for districts to operate Acceleration Academies using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Response (ESSER) discretionary funds. This will be a multi-year program that the Department anticipates will impact more than 50,000 students statewide each year.

Acceleration Academies will include:

  • Early Literacy Academies for incoming kindergarteners, rising 1st and 2nd graders; and
  • Math Acceleration Academies for rising 3rd and 4th graders, as well as 8th and 10th graders.

The Summer Acceleration Academy Grant has been posted. Please visit the grant posting to learn more about this grant opportunity and, if eligible, to apply.

Summer School Matching Grants

DESE will also offer summer school matching grants, up to $15 million in federal ESSER funds, for school districts to offer 4-to-6-week, in-person programs with a mix of in-person academic and recreational activities. DESE is making these funds available to schools to enhance or expand their existing summer programs while also including mental health services and additional supports for students with individualized education plans and English learners.

DESE anticipates posting a non-competitive grant for districts to apply for up to $50,000 for one site/school or up to $100,000 for two or more sites/schools. It is expected that the grant will include a wide-range of fund uses to add more time or serve more students as well as enhance summer school programs by including any of the following:

  • high engagement activities;
  • support for inclusive participation of students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs),
  • support for English learners,
  • support for students experiencing homelessness, in foster care and/or who are migratory;
  • mental health and social-emotional learning services;
  • enrichment/recreational activities;
  • transportation;
  • family engagement activities;
  • culturally responsive, anti-racist and welcoming environments; and
  • collaboration with local community-based organizations to support any of these priorities.

The indication of interest/intent is due on June 1. Confirmed details are available in the Fund Code 120 grant posting.

Summer Acceleration to College Program for Students Earning the Modified Competency Determination

High school graduates from the Class of 2021 who earned the modified competency determination are eligible to participate in Summer Acceleration to College, a program that provides recent graduates access to credit-bearing math and English courses at no cost to them as they prepare for college. High school administrators and school counselors are encouraged to refer students graduating with the modified competency determination to these summer transition programs at 14 community colleges across the Commonwealth. The RFP for community colleges that were awarded funds for this program can be found at Fund Code 463.

Summer Step Up

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) will support school districts to offer Summer Step Up, a program aimed at giving extra support to young learners entering school in the fall. Young children, who have had limited in-school experiences due to the pandemic, will be able to take part in summer learning opportunities developed in conjunction with community partners to help prepare them for school. With pre-school and kindergarten enrollments down over the last year, Summer Step Up is an opportunity to engage young learners and accelerate learning while smoothing the transition to in-person learning for young children to provide them a stronger foundation for academic success. The Administration will commit up to $10 million to this program. More information can be found at Summer Step Up or by emailing Sarah Link at

Early Literacy Tutoring

DESE will provide early literacy tutoring services in local communities this summer and during the 2021-22 school year, funded at $10 million, through the following providers:

  • Literacy Lab, currently operating in Springfield and Holyoke
  • Springboard, currently operating in eastern Mass
  • Northshore YMCA/HILL for Literacy, currently operating on the North Shore
  • Tufts University, currently operating in Medford/Somerville

The providers partner with districts in order to place students into tutoring and coordinate the tutoring program; the costs are paid by DESE. Some of the providers may be able to expand services into additional districts this summer or next school year. In addition, more providers are being approved and funded to operate beginning next school year. This list will be updated as additional providers are added. For more information, please contact Mary Brown at

Supports for Accelerating Mathematics Instruction for Students 2021-2022

DESE will select approved vendors to offer various programming options to help schools and districts accelerate math instruction this summer and during the 2021-2022 school year. The options will include digital conceptual mathematics programs, summer intensive curricular materials, and high-quality core curriculum instructional materials with targeted acceleration supports. The vendors will provide access to the program or curricular materials, and professional development at no cost to schools and districts. Information webinars will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 13 and again at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 27. Vendor names, information on what schools and districts will have priority, details on the application process, and links to the webinars will be posted on DESE's STEM webpage. Schools and districts interested in accessing any of these programs will apply to DESE for approval. [Additional information regarding priorities and application details coming soon. If you have any questions about these opportunities, please email

Biggest Winner Math Challenge Expansion

The Biggest Winner Math Challenge was piloted last summer to address the "the steep and disproportionate drop off of academically advanced Black, Hispanic, and/or low-income students between 3rd and 6th grade", as noted in a 2019 report on the state of Gifted and Talented education in Massachusetts. For Summer 2021, the program will be expanded to serve approximately 2,500 academically advance math students, with a focus on Gateway Cities, costing approximately $2 million. For more information about the program, please reach out to Erika Alvarez-Werner at

Early College Summer Courses

DESE and the Department of Higher Education are partnering to offer college courses over the summer for rising high school juniors and seniors who are enrolled in designated Early College programs, costing approximately $1 million. This program will support students impacted by COVID 19 who are enrolled in Early College programs to meet designation criteria of acquiring 12 or more college credits prior to high school graduation by allowing individual Early College students to take up to two college courses during the summer of 2021. Any Massachusetts Early College program (designated by the Early College Joint Committee (ECJC) of the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) which was designated by June 2020 and enrolled students in the designated program during this 20-21 Academic year is eligible. Funding will be disbursed as credit reimbursements through designated early college partners. For more information, please contact Kristin Hunt at or Rebekah Barr at

Additional funding for Camps and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to Expand Education Enrichment

DESE will also provide additional funding to help camps and community organizations expand educational enrichment as part of their existing summer programs by making at least $3 million in funding available. DESE has posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) for another Summer Development and Expansion grant (similar to Fund Code 527 which was due April 30, 2021) under Fund Code 525. Eligibility is limited to community-based organizations (CBOs) and proposals allow for requests of up to $100,000 for two or more sites.

Additional Summer Learning Opportunities (not included in the $70M press release)

Summer Enrichment for English Learners in Science and/or the Arts

  • When: Summer 2021
  • Description: Community-based organizations will provide high-quality programming for English learners in science and/or the arts. This initiative will allow English Learners in a variety of communities to attend an engaging, enriching, and hands-on summer program free of charge.
  • Students Served: Varies by program provider
  • For more info:

HS Senior Internship Project — Summer Extension

  • When: Summer 2021
  • Description: Funding opportunity to continue the High School Senior Internship Education Project program to provide additional experience for students and support for summer programming.
  • Students served: Members of the class of 2021
  • For more info:

Last Updated: June 15, 2021

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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