A national nonprofit founded in 1992

BELL & YMCA of the USA partner to increase student achievement

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BOSTON - April 29, 2014 -- BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and YMCA of the USA (the Y) are partnering to increase student achievement through a new summer learning initiative, the Power Scholars AcademyTM. The program is based on BELL's evidence-based summer learning model, and delivered in partnership with Ys and schools throughout the country.

This summer, BELL and the Y will expand the Power Scholars AcademyTM from three to eight YMCA Associations. Pilot programs started last year in Hartford CT and Orlando FL will build on their success and serve more scholars, while new programs will launch in Montgomery AL, Denver CO, Washington DC, Clearwater FL, Minneapolis and St. Paul MN, and San Antonio TX. BELL and the Y expect the Power Scholars Academy to serve at least 1,000 scholars in grades K-8 this summer.

Results from last summer's pilots showed the program boosted students' reading and math skills and increased their self-confidence. Their summer learning success prepared scholars to learn and achieve in the next school year.

"Our partnership with the Y is creating new and exciting opportunities to connect more scholars with transformative summer learning experiences," explained Tiffany Gueye, Ph.D., BELL's Chief Executive Officer. "The Power Scholars Academy pairs BELL's expertise in delivering high-quality programming and generating academic impact with the Y's expertise in enrichment and community engagement. Amazing things happen for scholars and families when we leverage each others' strengths and work together to narrow the achievement gap in our communities."

This partnership and the Power Scholars Academy grew out of a shared goal of narrowing the achievement gap. Studies show that a lack of summer learning activities among disadvantaged youth, such as camp, travel and visits to libraries and museums, cause a loss of skills that accumulates each year and widens the achievement gap. The lack of summer learning programming in low-income communities can cause students to fall two to three years behind their middle- and upper-income peers by the fifth grade.

The program, which will be offered free-of-charge in local public schools, is a full-day summer learning experience that combines small group, rigorous academic instruction with fun, hands-on enrichment activities, field trips and service projects. The model is designed to help students enhance skills in subjects such as reading, writing, math and science while also engaging families in the education process. Through this partnership, the Power Scholars Academy will be delivered by Ys and local schools. Program staff, including program managers, teachers, enrichment instructors and tutors, are identified from partner school faculty, the Y and school communities.

"Working together for just over a year, BELL and the Y have forged an incredible partnership. Together, we're dramatically boosting students' reading and math scores, along with their belief in themselves," said Jorge Perez, Vice President of Youth Development, Family Enrichment & Social Responsibility, YMCA of the USA. "In our second summer of collaboration, we'll bring Power Scholars Academy to more than 1,000 children in six states and are poised to continue to grow across the country. We're motivated by what lies ahead for our partnership and for the children who we're serving."

A number of foundations have endorsed the project, providing financial as well as planning assistance. "We see promise that this pilot partnership between BELL and Y-USA can support many more students with evidence-based summer learning programs," said Dara Rose, Senior Program Officer at The Wallace Foundation, one of the project's backers. "We are also hopeful that it can help many more students in the future by building field knowledge of ways to scale programs that work." In 2015, the two organizations will accelerate program expansion, with a goal of serving more than 5,000 scholars in as many as 48 Ys by 2016.

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About the Y

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 Ys engage 21 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. ymca.net.

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