Blog | July 11, 2022

Indy Summer Learning Labs Hit Halfway Point in 2022 Programming

Indy Summer Learning Labs (ISLL) are in full swing! The second year of the summer program led by The Mind Trust and United Way of Central Indiana is just over the halfway mark. ISLL programming started on June 21 and runs until July 22.

ISLL sites are free or low-cost and provide students with reading and math instruction in the morning and fun activities in the afternoon. Each site serves breakfast and lunch.

More than 5,000 students enrolled to attend 40 sites spread across Indianapolis. These early weeks of ISLL’s second year highlight the fact that students are eager to spend time with friends and continue building math and reading skills during the summer break.

Engaging Instructional Materials

One comment we hear over and over: students love the ISLL curriculum books! The books were intentionally chosen to reflect diverse subjects and authors, and are relatable for students.

One student at MSD of Decatur Township’s Blue Academy shared, “I wanted to read all the books I saw when I came in this morning. Their covers persuaded me to read them.” A student at Decatur’s Middle School location said he’d already read an excerpt from their summer book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, in a previous class and was excited to dig into the whole story in the coming weeks.

On the teacher side, something that makes ISLL curriculum stand out is its focus on story problems, which help students develop multiple ways to solve problems that are on or above their grade level. Designed by Lavinia Group, the curriculum provides teachers space to bring their full personalities when engaging students in the content. A teacher at the Victory College Prep site shared, “I really love the Lavinia Group curriculum because we use story problems, and the story problems give the teacher the opportunity to engage students and give them a hook.”

This particular teacher hooked students through a story about her dog, Sammy. The problem students were going to solve involved figuring out the weight of a human if they weighed five times as much as their dog. Students would be given the dog’s weight and have to problem-solve from there.

The teacher explained her approach to engaging students in this problem by sharing, “My dog Sammy is nine months old and 100 pounds. He also just finished puppy school so I brought in the certificate and ribbon that he earned during puppy school. To hook my students in this particular lesson I’m going to share that with them. I also have a large picture of him up on the screen. And then that’s going to invite our students to talk about their dogs, it’s going to hook them, engage them, and that’ll segue into the lesson.”

Positive Student Experiences

In another classroom at Victory College Prep, a rising high school student spoke to why she was eager to attend ISLL this summer. “I enjoy the amount of time I have to work,” she said. “I get to work with people I know in a good environment.”

Back at Decatur Township’s Middle School, one teacher spoke to how her students are focused on making the most of each day of ISLL. “Every student in my class has been here every day since summer school started and I’ve even had a couple of students come in late who said, “I missed the bus but I really wanted to come.”  

When asked why the program matters, a Victory College Prep teacher responded, “Summer learning matters for students because a lot of the time kids are behind because of the pandemic. Bringing kids in over the summer helps them improve and close learning gaps. Kids love it, honestly.”

Students who attend ISLL take a pre- and post-test to measure their proficiency in math and ELA. Last year, student proficiency grew by 20 percentage points in ELA and 27 percentage points in math during summer programming.

Don’t Forget the Fun

ISLL is not solely focused on the academic side of school. It’s summer after all, and students deserve to have fun too. While the mornings are reserved for instruction in ELA and math, the afternoons are for fun activities at the site and, sometimes, around the city.

Each site offers their students unique opportunities that run the gamut from going swimming at the local park to visiting the Indianapolis Zoo to doing a tie dye lab. Students at Circle City Prep’s site used clay and other art supplies to model human organs in a science lab. Still other sites engaged students with educational board games, dance classes, art projects, or musical instruments during the enrichment blocks.

Overall, three things are clear from the first weeks of this year’s ISLL. 1) Teachers are equipped with high-quality, diverse materials. 2) Students are excited to show up each day and engaged in the content. And 3) Students are recovering learning they missed due to the pandemic’s many disruptions.

We are grateful for the teachers and staff who make Indy Summer Learning Labs possible for thousands of students across Indianapolis!

This year’s sites include:

  • 100 Black Men Summer Academy – Indianapolis
  • Adelante Schools – Emma Donnan Elementary and Middle School
  • A Learning Bee Academy
  • ASPIRE Indy
  • BELIEVE Circle City High School
  • Boys & Girls Club of Indianapolis – Finish Line
  • Brookside Community Development Corp.
  • Charity Cares Early Academy
  • Charles Warren Fairbanks IPS 105
  • Christ Church Holiness USA Inc
  • Christ Temple Christian Academy
  • Christamore House
  • Circle City Prep
  • Clarence Farrington IPS 61
  • Decatur Township
  • First Samuel MBC
  • Global Prep Academy at Riverside 44
  • Hawthorne Community Center
  • Indianapolis Public Schools
  • James A. Garfield IPS 31
  • James Russell Lowell IPS 51
  • James Whitcomb Riley IPS 43
  • Keenan- Stahl Boys & Girls Clubs
  • LeGore Boys & Girls Club
  • Lew Wallace IPS 107
  • Lilly Unit – Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis
  • Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center
  • Mt. Carmel Community Academy
  • New Era Church
  • Next Generation High School
  • Pride Academy
  • Rooted School Indianapolis @ Eastern Star Church
  • Sankofa School of Success
  • Shepherd Community Center
  • Success Center @ Carriage House East
  • The PATH School
  • Tindley Genesis Academy
  • Tindley Summit Academy
  • Victory College Prep
  • Westminster Neighborhood Services
  • Westside Missionary Baptist Church
  • Wheeler-Dowe Boys & Girls Club
  • William McKinley IPS 39

Learn more about ISLL by visiting