Local YMCAs Step Up to Stop the “Summer Slide,” Expanding From 20 to 52 Cities in Single Year

With clear evidence in hand of its effectiveness in stopping the “summer slide,” the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) are dramatically expanding the Power Scholars Academy™ and Power Scholars Camp™ this year to serve more than 5,500 kids who attend high-poverty schools.

The partnership effort will expand from 20 cities in 2015 to 52 cities this summer, serving more than 5,500 scholars in grades K-to-8 compared to 2,200 last year.

Last year, students attending the Power Scholars Academy (PSA) gained an average of 2 months in reading skills and 3 months in math skills, or 20 and 30 percent, respectively, of a regular school year. Scholars attending the Power Scholars Camp showed gains of 1 month in reading skills and 1.5 months in math skills.

“As a country, we must do more to bridge gaps for all youth and put them on a path to succeed by implementing these types of programs that get results,” said Bela Moté, VP of Evidence-Based Youth Development Interventions & National Director of Character Development at Y-USA. “It helps boost students’ reading and math scores along with building their confidence. We’re motivated by what these children can accomplish and excited about expanding the initiatives this summer.”

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.

The Power Scholars Academy program, built on BELL’s evidence-based model, blends rigorous, small-group academic instruction with high-quality camp-like 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.

At the start and end of the summer, students complete computer-adaptive STAR Reading and Math Assessments, which measure their academic progress against Common Core State Standards.

“Summer learning is one of the most effective ways to improve student achievement,” said Dr. Tiffany Gueye, BELL’s CEO. “Our partnership with the Y and its broad community-based network is helping us solve the challenge of scaling the impact of summer learning so that more scholars, schools and communities benefit. This is extraordinarily important work that these local YMCA’s are taking on.”

BELL and the Y-USA first launched the PSA summer program with a trial in 2013. The program expanded to eight cities in 2014 and then 14 in 2015. Also last summer, BELL and the Y developed the Power Scholars Camp in six other cities as a second option for local YMCA associations. The Camp program adds academic instruction into the middle of existing summer-long camp programs at local Ys.

In addition to the academic impact of summer learning, scholars are strengthening their social skills, participating in physical activities and enjoying nutritious meals. According to the student’s teachers, nine out of 10 students increased their self-confidence and improved their attitude toward school. The Power Scholars Academy also helped nine out of 10 parents become more involved in their child’s education.

The PSA and Camp programs are provided free of charge to families in the communities where they operate. Local Y’s, Y-USA, BELL and public school partners share responsibility for program cost. The three nonprofit organizations raise philanthropic support from local and national sources, while school districts contribute facilities, utilities, meals, etc.


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 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. ymca.net.


BELL is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit providers of quality expanded learning programs for children in grades pre-K-8.  Its mission is to transform the academic achievement, self-confidence and life trajectories of children living in low-income communities.  BELL serves more than 15,000 scholars in public schools across the country through its summer and afterschool programs.  Visit www.experienceBELL.org for more information.


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Editor’s Note

The Power Scholars Academy and the Power Scholars Camp will be offered by the following local YMCA associations in 2016:

Power Scholars Academy 
·         YMCA of the Suncoast (Fla.)
·         YMCA of Metropolitan Hartford (Conn.)
·         Central Florida Metro YMCA (Fla.)
·         YMCA of Greater Montgomery (Ala.)
·         YMCA of Metropolitan Denver (Colo.)
·         YMCA of Metropolitan Washington (D.C.)
·         YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities (Minn.)
·         YMCA of Greater San Antonio (Texas)
·         YMCA of Boise Inc. (Idaho)
·         YMCA of Greater Louisville (Ky.)
·         Greater St. Louis YMCA (Mo.)
·         YMCA of Greater Omaha (Neb.)
·         YMCA of Greater Cincinnati (Ohio)
·         YMCA of the Greater Houston Area (Texas)
·         Birmingham Metropolitan YMCA (Ala.)
·         YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles (Calif.)
·         YMCA of San Diego County (Calif.)
·         YMCA of Coastal Georgia Inc. (Ga.)
·         YMCA of Greater Boston (Mass.)
·         Old Colony YMCA (Mass.)
·         YMCA of South Hampton Roads (Va.)
·         YMCA of Greater Brandywine (Pa.)
·         Valley of the Sun (Ariz.)
·         YMCA of Greater Richmond (Va.)
·         YMCA of Freedom Valley (Pa.)
·         YMCA of Greater Holyoke (Mass.)

Power Scholars Camp

·         YMCA of Selma-Dallas County (Ala.)
·         YMCA of Superior California (Calif.)
·         YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg (Fla.)
·         YMCA of Greater Boston (Mass.)
·         Jamestown YMCA (NY)
·         YMCA of Grays Harbor (Wash.)
·         YMCA of Greater Cleveland (Ohio)
·         Heart of the Valley YMCA (Wis.)
·         Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA (Fla.)
·         Wood River Community YMCA (Idaho)
·         McGaw YMCA (Ill.)
·         Wabash County YMCA (Ind.)
·         YMCA of Wichita Kansas (Kansas)
·         South Sound YMCA (Wash.)
·         The Granite YMCA (NH)
·         Greater Syracuse YMCA (NY)
·         YMCA Buffalo Niagara (NY)
·         YMCA of Greater Rochester (NY)
·         YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley (NY)
·         YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga (Tenn.)
·         YMCA of Rapid City South Dakota (S.D.)
·         YMCA of Greater Dayton (Ohio)
·         YMCA of Central Virginia (Va.)
·         YMCA of Greater Seattle (Wash.)
·         YMCA of Southern Indiana (Ind.)
·         YMCA of Honolulu (Hawaii)


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

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