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BELL & Boston Public Schools to Expand Summer Learning for English Language Learners

Boston, MA - June 3, 2013 - Today BELL announced a new partnership with Boston Public Schools to deliver summer learning experiences to 880 English language learners in grades 2-8 through an ELL Summer Enrichment Program. By expanding learning time for these students, BELL and the Boston Public Schools seek to increase their mastery of academic English, boost their academic skills, and strengthen their social and emotional skills, leading to improved school performance, graduation rates, and post-secondary opportunities.

The partnership will deliver culturally relevant learning experiences that combine instruction in English as a Second Language (ESL) with literacy, mathematics, social studies and science courses, enrichment activities, and field trips. ESL activities will be led by the Boston Public Schools' ESL teachers while additional academic and enrichment activities will be provided by BELL and community partners. The summer learning experience will operate for five hours per day, five days per week, for five weeks.

Students from across the city who are at beginning or intermediate levels of English language proficiency will participate at school and community-based sites. Proposed school sites for the initiative include the Blackstone (South End), Holland (Dorchester), Jackson Mann & Horace Mann (Allston), McKay (East Boston), Young Achievers (Mattapan), Orchard Gardens (Roxbury), Quincy (Chinatown), Sumner (Roslindale), Warren Prescott (Charlestown), and Umana (East Boston) schools. Community-based organizations partnering with Boston Public Schools and BELL include St. Peter's Teen Center (Catholic Charities), Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Youth and Family Enrichment Services, hosted at the Mattahunt Elementary School (Mattapan), and the African Community Economic Development of New England (ACEDONE), hosted at the Curley K-8 School (Jamaica Plain).

"The goal of our partnership is twofold - to eliminate the opportunity gap for children who might not be able to access social and cultural enrichment experiences in their community, and to eliminate the achievement gap that continues to limit the potential of English language learners," explains BELL CEO, Dr. Tiffany Gueye.

English language learners comprise approximately 30% of the student population in the Boston Public Schools and are at increased risk of academic underperformance. In the last three years, BPS has trained approximately 3,000 teachers and has invested more than $10 million to improve opportunities for these students. As a result, the ELL graduation rate has jumped nearly 25 percent since 2009 and the achievement gaps between ELL students and native English speakers are beginning to close. However, MCAS scores show that less than 40% of ELL students in the third grade are proficient in English language arts and Math and 17% of English Language Learners drop out before the end of their senior year of high school. Furthermore, English Language Learners often lack access to high-quality and equitable learning opportunities outside of the traditional school day.

"By expanding learning time in the summer, we'll be able to help English language learners strengthen their linguistic, academic, and social skills while engaging them in fun and relevant learning experiences that celebrate their cultural heritage. We are excited about this summer's partnership with BELL and we look forward to a terrific learning and enrichment experience for our students this summer," commented Dr. Eileen de los Reyes, Assistant Superintendent for English Language Learners for the Boston Public Schools.

BELL and BPS will share costs for the summer learning program, with BELL raising philanthropic support from local and national sources and BPS providing Title III funding and in-kind contributions such as school facilities, enrollment support, and parent ambassadors.

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