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BELL & YMCA of the USA to offer new path to high-quality summer learning

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BOSTON, June 15, 2015 - Six YMCA locations from Washington state to Florida will pilot a new addition to their summer camp experience - rigorous academic enrichment in reading and math - through the new Power Scholars Academy™ Camp (PSAC) organized by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life).

Y locations launching the pilot program include Boston; Grays Harbor, Wash.; Jamestown, NY; Sacramento; Selma, Ala., and St. Petersburg, Fla. Each site will serve between 60 and 120 scholars.

PSAC will bring an intensive five-week academically-oriented element to the local summer camp programs already being operated by each Y. Based on BELL's summer learning model, PSAC will combine math and reading instruction in the morning with camp-like enrichment activities and field trips in the afternoon and on Fridays. Certified teachers will deliver Common Core-aligned curricula specially designed by BELL and its partners for a summer learning environment.

By marrying the elements of camp with summer learning in an adaptable program model, PSAC makes high-quality summer learning a possibility for Ys of all sizes.

In addition to the intensive academic portion, hallmarks of BELL's approach will infuse participating Y programs throughout the summer, including recognizing children as "scholars" to demonstrate high expectations, project-based activities, and service learning projects.

"The summer time offers an important opportunity for kids to play, explore, and have fun, while also learning and developing their self-confidence and social skills," said Dr. Tiffany Gueye, BELL's CEO. "Our partnership with these local Ys is helping address summer learning loss so that more scholars, schools and communities benefit. This is extraordinarily important work."

During the summer months, children who lack quality learning experiences tend to lose academic skills over the school break. Such losses - which equate to two months of a grade level each summer -- accumulate year after year. Studies have shown that by the end of eighth grade, summer learning loss can account for 66 percent of the achievement gap between low- and high-income students.

"As a country, we must do more to bridge gaps for all youth and put them on a path to succeed by implementing programs that we know work," said Jorge Perez, Vice President of Youth Development, Family Enrichment & Social Responsibility, YMCA of the USA. "BELL's model has proven successful at the Ys through the Power Scholars Academy™, and we're excited to offer the Power Scholars Academy Camps as another option this summer."

The Power Scholars Academy, launched in 2013 by the Y and BELL, is a stand-alone, full-day, six-week program for at-risk students that will operate in 15 cities across the country this summer. The Power Scholars Academy is conducted in local schools and is provided free-of-charge with local Ys, Y-USA, BELL and the public school partners sharing responsibility for program cost.

At the start of the summer, students complete formative reading and math assessments that inform data-driven instruction over the course of the program. At the end of the program, the computer-adaptive assessments measure academic progress against Common Core State Standards. According to the 2014 Power Scholars Academy Impact Report, data from the STAR assessments show that while all students, on average, gained skills, the return on investment was greatest for scholars who were struggling academically and who had the most to gain. They achieved growth of 2.5 months of reading and math skills.


The Y is one of the nation's leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Y's engage 22 million men, women and children - regardless of age, income or background - to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation's health and well-being and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. www.ymca.net.

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