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National Summer Learning Association to Host Summer Changes Everything in Baltimore

29 Sep

NSLA CMYK logoBaltimore — With millions of students now back in school, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joins the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) in convening nearly 600 leaders from across the country for Summer Changes Everything™, NSLA’s 12th annual national conference exploring the role of summer learning in closing the student achievement gap in the United States. Summer Changes Everything™ brings together the country’s top thinkers to tackle the “summer slide,” a phenomenon in which young people lose approximately two months of academic knowledge when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer months. See conference schedule highlights here.

“We know from more than 100 years of research that summer changes everything-for better or worse-for young people in our nation,” says Sarah Pitcock, NSLA CEO. “Far too many young people lose access to books, structured activities, caring mentors and adults and daily subsidized meals when the last school bell rings for summer break. NSLA is working in communities big and small to change that.”

This year’s conference theme: Renewing the Promise and Purpose of Learning captures NSLA’s belief that the extraordinary journey of learning requires high expectations for all students, great teachers and caring adults, and equal access to high-quality experiences that nurture a young person’s mind, body and spirit.

Educators, program providers, policymakers, funders and business leaders will delve into out-of-school time public policies, promising summer learning practices, and assess the significant shifts that need to take hold within our highest-need communities in order to create brighter futures for the country’s most vulnerable students.

Summer Changes Everything™ kicks off with a mayoral plenary session, moderated by Virginia B. Edwards, President and Editor-in-Chief of Education Week. This opening session focuses on the tale of two cities and their strategies to increase summer changes everythingaccess to and sustainability of summer enrichment and youth employment opportunities. The panel features champions on the issue: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore, Md) and Mayor Richard J. Berry (Albuquerque, NM).

Day two of the conference brings to the stage keynote speaker, Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County). Dr. Hrabowski was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine (2012) and one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report (2008), Hrabowski will share insights from his new book, Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement.

With youth at the center of NSLA’s work, Summer Changes Everything™ is powered by inspirational ideas, voices, and performances of local youth and will feature a youth art exhibition curated by Young Audiences of Maryland. A Youth Sparks panel discussion, moderated by Karim Abouelnaga, Co-founder and CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, will spotlight youth insights from the following organizations: Baltimore Urban Debate League; Baltimore City Public Schools 22nd-Century Pioneers robotics program; Higher Achievement, and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program.

NSLA will also honor four exemplary programs recently announced as having earned the coveted 2015 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award and NSLA’s Founder’s Award. Both awards recognize summer programs demonstrating excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for low-income children and youth, as measured by NSLA’s Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs.

“We are pleased to once again partner with the National Summer Learning Association, which is one of the nation’s leading authorities on summer learning,” said Marlyn Torres, senior program officer, New York Life Foundation. “The Excellence in Summer Learning Award has grown into a program that has improved the quality of summer learning programs, which provide thousands of children across the country with enriched summer experiences.”

In addition to support from the New York Life Foundation and The Wallace Foundation, Summer Changes Everything™ is sponsored by CampSite, Comcast, Giant Word Winder, Scholastic, YMCA and media partner, Youth Today. Conference registration is open until October 12 and includes a Pre-Conference Summer Learning Planning Institute, more than 50 workshops, 30 exhibitors, youth performances and networking receptions. Learn more and register at

The National Summer Learning Association is the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap by increasing access to high-quality summer learning opportunities. NSLA recognizes and disseminates what works in summer learning, develops and delivers capacity-building offerings and convenes and empowers key actors to embrace summer learning as a solution for equity and excellence in education. For more information, visit


Live Tweeting: Day 2 of the School’s Out Washington Bridge Conference

28 Oct

Today I had the great pleasure of attending and presenting at the 14th annual School’s Out Washington Bridge Conference. The people I met were passionate about working with young people and were engaged in every presentation.

About the Conference: The Bridge Conference brings together education and community leaders serving youth both in and out of school to come together to strengthen these partnerships between our formal education system and after-school and youth development (AYD) programs. This year’s conference theme was Making Learning Personal and emphasized how meaningful learning is ignited by personal passion, supports social-emotional learning all the while building competency in academics. We hope for a world in which all youth are accessing quality services both in and out of school that help them succeed in school and in life.

I had such a fun time live tweeting the plenary sessions and my two workshops. Below is the social media roundup of Day 2 of the conference.

Making Learning Personal at the 2014 Bridge Conference! #Bridge2014

A post shared by Glen Reser (@glenreser) on

So ready for Day 2 of the Bridge Conference! #Bridge2014

A post shared by Glen Reser (@glenreser) on

Lunch! 2014 Bridge Conference! #SchoolsOut #Bridge2014

A post shared by Glen Reser (@glenreser) on

UW's campus is absolutely beautiful 💜💛 #Bridge2014

A post shared by Mrs. Nolen-Viducich (@cviducich) on

Using Instagram to Grow Your Blog or Personal Brand

1 Oct

Thinking a lot about how to use instagram to build my personal brand, this post is great!

The Daily Post

Some of you may not use Instagram as actively as others, but even if you’re not an addict of the app, it might offer a new outlet to build your personal brand. After all, your site is just one aspect of you — if you’re on Instagram, perhaps you can find ways to bridge these two networks and grow your online presence.

Looking to give your site a boost and reach new audiences? From a custom domain to advanced SEO tools and more design options, there’s a plan that’s right for you.

Lead new visitors to your site

The simplest thing you can do? Include your site URL in your Instagram profile, so your followers can access and explore (the mobile version of) your site.

If you post regularly, keep the link in your Instagram profile current. If you’re a travel photographer who has just…

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Transition Announcement: Graduated from Hopkins, Working at National Summer Learning Association

18 Aug
Though some may already be aware, I’m writing to let you know that after two wonderful and challenging years I’ve graduated from The Institute of Health and Social Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a Master’s in Public Policy. My time at Hopkins was a truly fantastic experience, thank you to everyone I had the pleasure of working and learning with.
Immediately following my graduation from Hopkins I accepted the position of Program Quality and Evaluation Manager at The National Summer Learning Association. In this position I lead NSLA’s work on formative evaluations and assessments and support all the major program quality initiatives across the US. This summer I’ve traveled all over the country from New York to Kentucky to California working to build high quality summer learning programs. I love seeing amazing programs on the ground, without having to be the one responsible for running the program itself. It’s definitely a change from my days managing volunteers and running after-school programs, but my evaluation work allows me to stay connected to young people while making a larger impact on education (specifically the achievement gap and summer learning loss) at the national level. It’s truly a win-win for me! 
I am also happy to announce that after my wedding this summer, I will now be using my married name Dara Murray. You can keep in touch via LinkedIn ( or Twitter ( 
Thanks for you continued support. I hope to hear from you soon!

Personal Branding: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

30 Mar

I got a tweet from one of the participants in my personal branding workshop last week. She ordered her first set of personal business cards from Love when my participants follow their action plans and get serious about personal branding!


Reblog from Volunteer Maryland: The Strength of Branding

29 Mar

Kelly not only attended, but organized the personal branding roundtable discussion yesterday on behalf of AmeriCorps Alums Baltimore. (She also baked a delicious cake for all of us to enjoy!) In her post for Volunteer Maryland’s fantastic blog, she talks about some of the key aspects of personal branding (including the three C’s of personal branding) and provides some excellent examples that give personal branding real-world context. Thanks for sharing Kelly!

Volunteer Maryland

Yesterday, I got to hear a great presentation from an AmeriCorps alum, Dara Goldberg, on personal branding.  While “personal branding” is a hot buzzword that a people tend to love or hate, what it really refers to is deliberately designing your reputation.  What do you want to be known for?  How do you want people to talk about you when you’re out of the room?

To create a strong personal brand, Dara stated that you need to have the 3 Cs: be clear in what your central message is, consistent in repeating that message, and constant in getting it out there for people to hear and remember.

Taking the idea of branding back to it roots as a marketing tool for companies, I started thinking about how I had seen branding taking place at some of Volunteer Maryland’s partner sites.  How had I seen Volunteer Maryland Coordinators employ branding…

View original post 411 more words

I’ve been selected as one of Google’s Project Glass Explorers

27 Mar

Project Glass eyewear

Breaking news! I’ve been selected as one of Google’s Project Glass Explorers. What does that mean? I will be allowed to purchase google glass before the general public and help launch the product in the US. I am super excited!!!

There’s only one problem… it costs $1,500! I’m not sure how many people were chosen from Baltimore, but I’m thinking about raising the money (similar to how I raised money to attend the National Service-Learning conference in 2012). Maybe I can look for a sponsor who will help me get glass and then I can attend their events.

I haven’t figured out all the details yet, but if you have ideas share them with me in the comments. Maybe we can partner and get glass together?

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