Funds support Calgary Public Library programs to address learning challenges during COVID-19

CALGARY, AB – Today, Linda and Mike Shaikh, local philanthropists and community-builders, announced a gift to support school-aged children during the COVID-19 pandemic and over the summer months when school is out.

“When schools closed mid-March, thousands of parents in our city found themselves home-schooling. Education is deeply important to our family, and we want to ensure Calgary’s children have the tools they need to continue their life-long learning journey, whether they’re learning remotely or out of school during the summer,” says Mike Shaikh.

Summer Slide refers to the annual challenge for school-aged children to retain learning achievements from the previous school year over the summer months. Summer Slide can disproportionately affect students from lower-income households, creating gaps amongst peers and a harder return to school in September.

“Summer Slide is something the Library addresses every year through our Ultimate Summer Challenge, but this year due to COVID-19, the program had to move to a virtual environment,” says Kate Schutz, Service Design Lead for school-age programming at the Calgary Public Library. “This funding allows us to create more online engagement opportunities and provide students with fun, curriculum-connected resources to prepare them for school success and help families navigate this challenging time.”

The Shaikh’s gift will support programs and resources for school-aged children at the Library, including: Collections; Beanstack, a free app that encourages children to read with customized reading lists and challenges; and the Ultimate Summer Challenge, the Library’s popular annual summer kids program. Last year, Calgary kids and teens recorded nearly 300,000 hours of reading over the summer.

Ultimate Summer Challenge registration is free and can be completed online or at any reopened Library location. In addition to tracking reading hours with a printable Challenge Map, kids can now earn digital badges through Beanstack by completing reading goals and learn at home activities.

Teens can complete online challenges and creative projects to earn more chances at winning a prize. Everyone who registers for the Ultimate Summer Challenge is entered into the grand prize draw for amazing items, including iPads, Chromebooks, or customized picture books.

The Ultimate Summer Challenge is part of the TD Summer Reading Club, which is a national program for kids in Canadian public libraries. The Ultimate Summer Challenge is also supported by J K L MacLachlan Family Fund. Visit for more information and to register.

In 2015, Linda and Mike Shaikh made a $1 million leadership donation to the Calgary Public Library Foundation, which was recognized with the naming of the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery in Central Library.


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