Lowell, MA – United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV) is leading a community-wide push in Greater Lowell to continue to provide free, youth focused summer programming as the school year comes to a close. Concerned about the lasting effects of the recession and its impact on Merrimack Valley youth, UWMBMV and a group of local business leaders are calling on the community to help increase the availability of accessible youth programs through the Summer Experiences in Greater Lowell (SEGL) initiative.

“Research shows that without summer programs, youth are at a greater risk for violence or other high-risk activities,” said Ginger Pearson Burke, co-chair of United Way’s SEGL initiative. “We are working to provide Lowell youth with summertime opportunities to keep them safe and help them develop lasting skills.”

The recession continues to impact children as more are left unsupervised while their parents work increased hours or more than one job, unable to afford quality child care. Families with fewer funds are searching for quality, summer programming for their children to develop leadership, social and academic skills that will empower them for life. Last year United Way’s SEGL initiative served more than 1,300 youth through 13 programs including the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell, Inc., the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Billerica, Inc., Girls, Inc., Light of Cambodian Children, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, The Paul Center for Learning and Recreation, YMCA, and The United Teen Equality Center.

“SEGL has been connecting youth with positive summer experiences for more than a decade,” said Joyce Leger, co-chair of United Way’s SEGL initiative. “We are asking the community to join us, by either donating or spreading the word to help ensure that young people in Lowell have a place to turn this summer.”

On June 9th, United Way hosted a SEGL benefit, the Martini Spring Fling at the Vesper Country Club, honoring the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation for the organization’s decades of service to youth and the Greater Lowell community. For more information on United Way’s SEGL initiative, please visit http://supportunitedway.org/youth/segl.

Individuals and companies interested in supporting the SEGL initiative can contact United Way’s Usha Chatterjee at uchatterjee@supportunitedway.org or call 978-656-5053.

A number of individuals, companies  and foundations have already joined the effort including Kronos, C.R. Bard Foundation, Nancy and Richard Donahue Foundation, Battles Foundation, Enterprise Bank, The Lowell Five Cent Savings Bank, Lowell Cooperative Bank, Thibault Foundation, Lowell General Hospital, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, Maureen and Arnold Lerner, Nicholas Sarris, Trinity Medical Emergency Services, WinnDevelopment, Middlesex Community College, Frills & Thrills Events, Lantheus Medical Imaging, and UPS.