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Robbie Gould on how he’s helping to prevent the ‘summer slide’ for low-income students

Robbie Gould visits TiltSchool for reading day.

Robbie Gould visits Tilton School for a reading day.

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Updated: April 8, 2013 1:17PM

It’s that time of year again. Spring is springing and parents are making decisions about what their kids will do all summer. Maybe a few weeks at the Lincoln Park Zoo Camp? Perhaps their children will test their acting chops at the Lookingglass Theatre Camp? Is sleepaway camp in Michigan in their futures? Most of these options allow kids to keep their brains active and engaged. But what about those low-income students and their families who can’t afford to do these things? As research proves, they’re the most susceptible to the “summer slide,” losing important knowledge and ground gained during the academic year.

As the son of a teacher, I consider education extremely important. If it wasn’t for the emphasis on education in my home, I may not be playing football today. When I founded The Goulden Touch in 2011 — my public charity which simply helps those in need — education became one of our “Goulden Rules” (along with medical research, health and wellness and social service). All proceeds from the organization benefit one of these main pillars, and education is obviously very close to my heart (thanks, Mom!).

So this summer, The Goulden Touch is teaming up with Working in the Schools (WITS) to send more than 3,000 students home for summer break armed with a bag full of books. University of Tennessee-Knoxville faculty members recently completed a three-year study showing a significantly higher level of reading achievement in students who received books for summer reading at home. Richard Allington, the University of Tennessee faculty member behind the study, says, “Just like hockey players lose some of their skills if they stay off their skates and off the ice for three months, children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development.”

Our goal in teaming up with WITS is to avoid this unfortunate phenomenon. We will do so by providing students with “WITSummer Books” — a goody bag filled with five grade-level appropriate books, a “think sheet” for each book with corresponding activities, a summer reading journal and a personal note from yours truly motivating them to keep up with their reading. I want the students to realize that a solid foundation is the key to obtaining their future dreams, whether they want to be doctors, scientists, actors, web developers or athletes.

At this point in the year, some parents don’t have the opportunity to think about sending their kids to the Lincoln Park Zoo or the Lookingglass Theatre. But with WITS, they can rest happily, knowing that their son or daughter will spend the summer reading — so that when they return to school in the fall, they are just as engaged and ready as those children with the above opportunities. As I’ve always been told: Education is power!

Robbie Gould donated his fee for this column to the Goulden Touch. For more information, visit

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