The St. Louis-based app Blueprint4SummerSTL has proven so popular it recently birthed a subsidiary piece of smartphone tech.
The easy-to-use, free “parent” app rolled out in 2015 as part of the Clark-Fox Family Foundation’s efforts to make a difference in the economic development of the St. Louis region through programming and investment in K-12 public education. Blueprint4SummerSTL helps families and students find the best-fit program among the bevy of summer camp options available throughout the region.
Now approaching its third summer, the website has grown to include nearly 7,000 summer camps, running the gamut from cooking and traditional sports and music to underwater robotics, outdoor gardening and camps that teach students how to eat healthily. Last year alone, Blueprint4SummerSTL donors provided $50,000 in scholarship funding, enabling 232 students across 19 summer programs to attend the program of their choice.
This year, Blueprint4SummerSTL launched its offshoot program, Blueprint4Summer College Prep, also a free app which enables high school students, parents, teachers and advisors to find enriching summer programs on college campuses across the country. LN spoke with founder Maxine Clark and programs manager Allie Cicotte to learn more.
What is Blueprint4Summer College Prep – and how does it work?
AC: We’ve had such positive feedback about the ease of use for Blueprint4Summer, so we copied a lot of the same structure. You can search for [college summer] programs by interest – such as academic prep, arts, leadership, STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], test prep or sports – as well as programs that provide transportation, are competitive, have available scholarships or stipends and provide college credit. The programs listed are nationwide; it lets St. Louis students find out that there might be an opportunity open to them, even if it’s farther from home.
MC: These programs are academically competitive; these colleges are hoping you’ll apply as a student, and they’ll already know you. They want to know the students who come are prepared. They’re amazing programs. We visited some of them, and I had no idea there were some of these programs around. This is a boon to a college counselor as well, who is helping sophomores and juniors decide what they’re doing their senior year.
What kind of advantage does going to a college prep summer program give high school students applying to a university?
MC: It gives them a knowledge of college life. Even if they’re applying to other colleges besides the one they went to over the summer, they can speak to that experience, and I think that’s going to be refreshing for college admissions officers. It speaks to the student’s maturity, curiosity and interest. Colleges like to see extracurricular activities, and they’re going to take note of a student having the initiative to go to a summer program. The summer programs are also low-risk; you’re not rejected if you have the money to go, and you’ll learn a lot. You might also get to know the people who work and teach at the college. Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, has a summer program taught by college professors. Universities like it because it gives them the opportunity to leverage their dorms, attracting new students. It’s a win-win for everybody.
AC: One other thing it gives the students is the opportunity to explore either their major interest or career interest before declaring that and choosing a school based on their major interest.
What are long-term goals you have for this app?
MC: We hope that more and more kids will be inspired to find their passion in their summer program, which will help them to be more successful in school. The hardest thing to find out is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And the more experiences kids have, the more inspired kids will be. They’ll find something they want to do and maybe develop their career around it. The reasons for summer camp are to make sure kids are safe, having a good time and learning about themselves – and in turn, preventing summer learning loss. From a socialization aspect, students get to meet people outside of their own community or neighborhood, meet new friends in a fun, stimulating camp environment, get outside and engage in healthier activities. Some people call them soft benefits, but I keep thinking, “Where would I have been if I didn’t go to that day camp?”