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WJLA: Nonprofit Summer Enrichment Program Helps Close Achievement Gap in Md.

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BY KELLYE LYNN/ABC7 | WEDNESDAY, JULY 20TH 2016

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Nonprofit summer enrichment program helps close achievement gap in Md. (ABC7) | View photo gallery

SILVER SPRING, Md. (ABC7) - School is in session at Cresthaven Elementary in Silver Spring, Md., even though it's July.

"I'm here because I want to get more education," said student Nat'eya Spriggs.

Spriggs has come to the right place. The Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) summer enrichment program is helping the fourth grader improve her reading and math.

"We are a nonprofit organization that comes into schools through the summer and afterschool programs to close the achievement gap and also the opportunity gap for children," Damon Johnson, BELL Regional Director, said.

Many of the students in the program have been experiencing academic difficulties at their home schools and are at risk of falling even farther behind during the summer months.

"We're not only able to stop that loss of learning we're also able to show gains. 1.5 month gains in a five week program," Johnson said.

Oliver Cruz is hoping to bring up his math scores.

"Right here, I learn multiplication so I can get better at it," Cruz said.

Every day breakfast and lunch are served and in the afternoon students attend enrichment classes like sign language, technology, art and drama. The free program is in its first year in Montgomery County and students are enthusiastic.

"If their old school is so, so, hard they can come here and they can learn better," said Cruz.

BELL does not only focus on academic enrichment, students leave the classroom to go on field trips on Fridays.