YMCA and Fayette County Public Schools Announce Education Partnership to Combat the Summer Achievement Gap in Lexington
Power Scholars Academy expanding to serve 480 students across 13 elementary and middle schools at three hub sites
The YMCA of Central Kentucky, Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS), Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), and Y-USA are collaborating to expand a free, five week, full-day summer learning program called Power Scholars Academy to serve 480 students across 13 elementary and middle schools at three hub sites. The program is geared for rising first through eighth grade students who are under the 40th percentile in literacy and math. In 2017, FCPS tested several summer learning programs to evaluate the educational gains of the students that participated. Of those programs, the YMCA’s Power Scholars Academy demonstrated the highest academic achievement.
The year-one results were impressive and showed a three month average advancement in both literacy and math over the course of the program as well as 100 percent of teachers reporting an improvement in scholars’ self-confidence, 100 percent of parents reporting that scholars enjoyed the program, and 97 percent of parents reporting increased involvement in their child’s education. “Based on the outcomes of our initial efforts last summer, the need to reach as many young people through the Power Scholars Academy is absolutely critical,” said YMCA of Central Kentucky President and Chief Executive Officer David Martorano. “Ensuring all children are afforded the opportunity to advance rather than regress in fundamental areas of learning is essential to their short and long-term success.”
In 2017, the YMCA of Central Kentucky and BELL combined resources and expertise to deliver the BELL summer program model, known as Power Scholars Academy, to 111 students in grades K-4 in the Lexington area. The program was hosted at Booker T. Washington Elementary School and was offered at no cost to families. The partnership helped students, known as scholars, to strengthen the foundational reading and math skills, self-confidence, and resilience they need to advance to the next grade and excel in school and beyond. The BELL model is designed to mitigate summer learning loss, curb negative social behaviors, and help underserved children gain the skills they need to succeed in school and to be college and career ready.
“This initiative gets to the heart of our school district’s moral imperative to accelerate the learning for students who are still reaching toward proficiency,” said Fayette County Public
Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk. “In order to address the opportunity and equity gaps in our community, we have to provide extended learning for our most vulnerable students. Partnerships like this one ensure that more of our children have access to robust summer experiences that not only help stop the summer slide, but actually propel them ahead for the upcoming school year.”
This year’s program will begin June 11 and run for five weeks at three hub sites that include Booker T. Washington Elementary School serving students from Arlington Elementary School, Booker T. Washington Elementary School, Cardinal Valley Elementary, James Lane Allen Elementary School, and William Wells Brown Elementary; Yates Elementary School serving students from Deep Springs Elementary, Northern Elementary School, Mary Todd Elementary School, Russell Cave Elementary, and Yates Elementary School; and Bryan Station Middle School serving students from Bryan Station Middle School, Crawford Middle School, and Winburn Middle School.
Summer learning activities play an important role in a child’s academic success as well as in their social, emotional and physical development. Without summer learning opportunities, studies show that children tend to lose reading and math skills, gain weight, and face increased risks of negative social behavior. By the time a child completes the eighth grade, summer learning loss has been shown to account for up to two-thirds of the academic achievement gap between children from underserved families and their higher-income peers.
Thanks to these local organizations for financially supporting this program: YMCA of Central Kentucky; Fayette County Public Schools; Lexington Fayette Urban County Government; Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.; Central Bank; Children’s Charity of the Bluegrass; Valvoline; Chase; United Way of the Bluegrass; Fifth Third Bank; PNC Bank; Dollar General Literacy Foundation; Link-Belt Excavator Company; City National Bank; WesBanco, Inc.