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Hartford Courant: YMCA Of Greater Hartford And BELL Partner To Provide Summer Learning Program

Hartford, CT - July 11, 2013 - In an effort to curb learning loss when the school year ends, the YMCA of Greater Hartford is partnering with BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) to pilot BELL Summer Learning with the YMCA. The program will help 100 kids in grades K through five in Hartford, increase their academic achievement during the summer months so they return to school in the fall ready to succeed.

Studies show that without access to summer learning activities, such as camp, travel, and visits to libraries and museums, children from low-income environments can experience more significant learning loss than their more economically stable peers. Over time, low-income children continue to lose ground, and by the fifth grade, many are two to three school years behind their middle- and high-income peers.

"A combination of extended learning and enrichment activities is essential to increasing children's success in school, and we are dedicated to helping more kids achieve their potential," said James Morton, president and chief executive officer, YMCA of Greater Hartford. "This program will help ensure children in Hartford, Connecticut have the opportunity to participate in out-of-school learning opportunities to strengthen their skills and keep them on track during summer."

BELL Summer Learning with the YMCA is based on the BELL Summer program model, which is a full-day 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. The program is proven to result in three- to six-month learning gains in literacy and math.

As a leading nonprofit focused on youth development, the Y nurtures the potential of every child and teen. Together with BELL, the Y will explore opportunities to further the quality of summer learning services for its partner schools.

"At a time when we are all challenged to do more with less, schools and communities have to work together if we're ever going to eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps that persist among disadvantaged students," explains Tiffany Gueye, Ph.D., BELL's chief executive officer. "Smart collaboration enables us to provide more time for learning for more of the students who need it most. We are excited by the potential of this pilot partnership and look forward to working with the Y and the Dr. Frank T. Simpson-Waverly School this summer to serve scholars and families this summer."

The YMCA of Greater Hartford is one of three Ys across the country offering BELL Summer Learning with the YMCA, which complements the Y's other educational programming, including Y-Achievers, Y-Tip (Teen Incentive Program), early education programs and before /after school programs to help youth succeed in school. The Y will work with BELL and the Hartford Public School to identify students, whose eligibility will be based on test scores, grades and teacher recommendations.

- Natalie Zembrzuski, YMCA of Greater Hartford