BELL Launching Major Expansion of Summer Learning in Middle Schools
BOSTON - June 30, 2011- BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) announced today that it will be expanding its award-winning summer learning experience to reach an additional 8,000 middle school students over three years in Boston, New York City, Detroit and Baltimore starting this summer. The expansion is made possible through the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA)'s Smarter Summers initiative, with a grant totaling $3.8 million as part of a national investment by the Walmart Foundation to promote summer learning. The Smarter Summers project will serve students in 10 cities throughout the U.S. who do not have access to quality summer learning opportunities.
"Ensuring that children continue to be intellectually challenged in a safe and engaging environment as they transition to middle school is particularly critical for the long-term success of our scholars," said BELL CEO Tiffany Cooper Gueye. "It is more important than ever that we all work together to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed, and we are thrilled that the Walmart Foundation has recognized summer learning programs can do just that, and that they have partnered with the NSLA in this effort."
While BELL's initiative will be partially funded with the Smarter Summers grant, the organization will seek to raise additional philanthropy over the next three years. Schools and district partners in each of these cities are providing matches in financial and in-kind resources.
"I'm thrilled to see such great momentum around summer learning opportunities for children in Boston. More and more, our community is coming together to ensure that children are kept safe, engaged, and challenged even when school is not in session," says Boston Public Schools Chief Innovation Officer Jeffrey Riley . "Smarter Summers is a creative way of bringing together a proven solution like BELL with Boston Public Schools to make sure that our children are just as well-supported during summer vacation as they are during the rest of the year."
The $3.8 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to BELL is part of Walmart's larger $25 million Summer Giving campaign aimed at filling the gaps created when schools close for this summer. The initiative will help expand nutrition, learning and employment services to more than 110,000 U.S. middle and high school students throughout the summer months. To find additional information on the summer programs that Walmart is supporting and learn more about how Walmart is bringing its commitment to hunger relief to life this summer, visit http://www.walmart.com/fightinghunger/.
"The National Summer Learning Association is thrilled to be able to expand BELL's excellent program for middle school students in four major cities through our partnership with the Walmart Foundation," said Matthew Boulay, interim CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. "BELL provides its scholars the kind of academic support and mentorship critical for middle-schoolers to stay on track for college and career success."
Studies show that up to two-thirds of the achievement gap between children in high- and low- socioeconomic environments can be attributed to summer learning loss. Students without access to summer enrichment activities are at a higher risk of falling further behind those that do. Not only does impact academic performance, but has proven to negatively affect self-efficiency areas.
The mission of the National Summer Learning Association is to connect and equip schools and community organizations to deliver quality summer learning programs to our nation's youth to help close the achievement gap. The organization serves as a network hub for thousands of summer learning program providers and stakeholders across the country, providing tools, resources, and expertise to improve program quality, generate support, and increase youth access and participation. For more information, visit http://www.summerlearning.org.
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit http://www.walmartfoundation.org.