A national nonprofit founded in 1992

YMCA of the USA summer learning programs powered by BELL yield K-8 reading and math gains


Contact: Jaime Crespo



Chicago, Jan. 17, 2017 -- Elementary and middle school students enrolled in BELL-powered summer academic and enrichment programs delivered by YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and local Y's showed gains in reading and math skills, new test results show. Students enrolled in the program are referred to as scholars.

In all, 4,681 K-8 scholars attended either Power Scholars Academy™ or PSA Camp™ summer programs last year, an expansion that more than doubled the number served in 2015. Scholars gained an average of two months in reading skills and 1.5 months in math skills during the summer, the equivalent of 20 percent and 15 percent of a school year. Academic improvement was measured with computer-adaptive assessments at the beginning and end of the program.

Teachers and parents also reported that scholars made important gains in self-confidence and social skills. Eighty-eight percent of teachers reported an increase in students' self-confidence, and stated that the program helped them develop their professional skills. In addition, 87 percent of parents reported that they became more involved in their child's education, and 90 percent of reported that their child has a more positive attitude about school.

Many at-risk children lack quality learning experiences over the summer, leading to a loss in academic skills, and contributing to the academic achievement gap. Studies show 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.

Power Scholars Academy™ was launched in 2013 by the Y-USA and BELL in collaboration with local YMCA associations and schools as an academic and enrichment program. In 2015, the Y-USA and BELL developed a second option for local YMCA associations known as the PSA Camp model, which adds academic instruction into existing summer-long camp programs. The partnership has grown dramatically every year since inception and in 2016, 48 different local Y's offered either an Academy or PSA Camp program.

"This is a collaboration that truly works," said Bela Moté, YMCA of the USA's vice president of evidence-based youth development interventions & national director of character development. "The program is not only boosting students' reading and math, but also their self-confidence, and communication skills, which is a powerful combination. We are hopeful this program will make a difference in reducing the achievement gap in our schools."

Powered by BELL's evidence-based model, The Power Scholars Academy™ blends small-group academic instruction with immersive enrichment and community engagement activities. It operates 6.5 hours per day, 5 days per week for 6 weeks. Y staff and teachers from public schools, who are trained and supported by BELL, deliver the program at schools for students in grades K-8 who are struggling academically and who lack access to summer learning opportunities in their community.

"This unique partnership leverages BELL's expertise in delivering proven summer learning programs with the Y's national network of associations and their deep connections to families and communities," said Lauren Gilbert, Ed.D., BELL's chief strategy officer and incoming chief executive officer. "As partners, we have made a commitment to scale up in a responsible, effective way and these results speak to that. Offering summer learning opportunities to struggling students can be transformative for them, their families and communities, The YMCA of USA is instrumental in making this transformation a reality."


About BELL

BELL is a national leader in evidence-based out-of-school time learning programs for K-8 students. Founded in 1992, BELL serves over 14,500 scholars in public schools across the country through its summer and after-school programs. BELL expands out-of-school time education to close the achievement gap among children living in under-resourced communities through partnerships with schools, school districts, and other youth-serving organizations. Visit www.experienceBELL.org for more information.


About YMCA of the USA

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. Across 10,000 communities nationwide, the Y is committed to nurturing the potential of all children and teens by providing holistic support to every child's individual development journey, from birth to career. To learn how the YMCA impacts your community, visit: ymca.net.

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