This past November, eight members of Aim High’s central office, including co-founder and executive director Alec Lee, flew to Washington, D.C. to attend the annual National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) Conference, where over 500 summer learning organizations convened to share new research in the field, gain expertise and professional development, and celebrate the impact and importance of summer education. This year, the conference tackled topics such as President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan and the American Rescue Plan — two important pieces of legislation that could potentially push summer learning forward. Additionally, proper pay for youth workers, the challenges of systemic transformation, and the trend towards equity-centric philanthropy were addressed. The big topic of discussion, of course, was the Covid-19 pandemic and how it may shape summer learning programming and curricula for many years to come. Aim High’s Impact at the Conference As NSLA Summer Learning Champions, Aim High was invited to lead several workshops. Vice President of Strategy and Learning Michelle Capobres, along with Organizational Learning Specialist Alexis Bailey, presented on how to create organizational learning cultures that foster sustainable growth — a topic close to the heart of Aim High’s mission. Aim High staff led the workshop Developing Strong CBO Partners to Better Serve Students. Facilitated by Vice President of Programs Terrence Riley, San Francisco Regional Program Manager Denny Tsang and East Bay Regional Program Manager Benjie Achtenberg, attendees learned new strategies for leveraging community partnerships to gain greater access to student opportunities. We were excited to share our best practices and impart lessons learned from thirty-five years of Aim High summer programming. Key Takeaways The headline takeaway, echoed by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in his speech on day 2 of the conference, is that summer learning matters, now more than ever. The pandemic exacerbated existing inequalities in our educational system, and as the country looks towards recovery, there are lots of eyes on summer and the importance of summer education to address these issues. Thankfully, along with those eyes on summer is the funding for summer education. Aim High hopes to leverage the momentum and the resources available through the Build Back Better and American Rescue Plans to better serve our students during this recovery period, while also putting in place structures to successfully support the work we do towards lasting change in our communities. Much of what we learned at the conference will inform our planning for summer 2022. A crucial takeaway from the conference is the importance of centering student voices and incorporating student perspectives into program implementation. At Aim High, we have long believed that every student deserves to be seen and heard. Our plan is to continue to create student-centered activities that elevate and amplify student voices, and as we develop our summer 2022 curriculum we will prioritize student perspectives and voices in our program design. Looking Forward Summer 2022 will be a critical time for all students, but especially students from marginalized and overlooked communities — the students we serve. Our students were disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and even more so by virtual instruction. As they look towards summer 2022, our students will begin to see what the “new normal” will look like. As summer program providers, we have a responsibility to ensure that their summer learning experiences will be restorative. Students will no longer be required to engage via monitors but will interact in person and be together. At Aim High, students will learn in new and creative ways. They will understand that they have a voice and will learn how to use their voice to create meaningful change. They will know that neither injustice nor a global pandemic will not stop them from progressing and moving forward towards their dreams. At Aim High, our students are the stars. We are just here to help and watch them shine.