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BELL to Expand Learning Time in the Summer for Students in Winston-Salem

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - February 19, 2013 - The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board unanimously approved a renewed partnership with BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) to expand learning time for up to 1,500 students this summer. The goal of the initiative is to help students boost their academic skills, eliminate summer learning loss, and strengthen their self-confidence.

Working together, the nonprofit organization and the school district will deliver a rich summer learning model that includes 6.5 hours of literacy and math instruction, enrichment clubs, and field trips, five days per week, for five weeks. Principals and district leaders will set criteria for student participation, with priority going to students who are struggling in school, according to test scores, grades, attendance, and behavior. The summer learning program will be managed by BELL and staffed by educators from the school district and Winston-Salem community.

"Expanding learning time is a proven strategy for boosting the engagement and achievement of students who are struggling in school," explains BELL's CEO, Tiffany Gueye, Ph.D. "We look forward to building on last summer's successes and lessons learned and delivering a world-class learning experience that narrows opportunity and achievement gap and helps at-risk students be better prepared for success in the next school year."

BELL and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will share program costs. The school district is contributing part of the funding required to pay for teachers, curriculum, supplies, and other program expenses, while BELL is raising philanthropic funds from local and national foundations, corporations, and individuals. The program's enrollment goal of 1,500 students is contingent upon BELL's ability to secure sufficient funding.

"Our partnership with BELL got off to an outstanding start last summer, and we hope that we will be able to serve more students this summer," Superintendent Don Martin said. "Students benefitted from additional time in the classroom and enrichment activities. BELL has added new strategies to engage students, and they are committed to rigorous evaluation of their programs. "

BELL and the school district look to build on the success of last summer's partnership, which enrolled 1,062 students in grades K-8. The 2012 summer learning program boosted participating students' performance on standardized tests by 6-7% in literacy and math.

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