FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jaime Crespo
DORCHESTER, Mass., Jan. 17, 2017 -- Data shows BELL experienced unprecedented growth in 2016 as its academic and enrichment model reached more students during the summer than ever before in the organization's 25-year history. Last summer, BELL and partners served 14,272 Pre-K-8 students at 135 sites, including more than 50 local Y associations, in 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Enrollment increased by 10 percent compared to 2015.
BELL partners with schools and other youth-serving organizations including YMCA of the USA to expand out-of-school time education and enrichment to close the achievement gap among children living in underserved communities. Known as the "summer slide," many at-risk children lose academic skills during the summer break. Studies show such losses -- two months or more each summer -- accumulate year after year. By the end of eighth grade, summer learning loss can account for 66 percent of the achievement gap between low- and high-income students.
BELL summer programs engage students by blending hands-on academic instruction with immersive enrichment activities and community field trips. Students attending summer learning programs delivered by BELL and partners showed gains in reading and math skills, computer-adaptive test results show. Students gained an average of two months in reading skills and three months in math skills during the 5-week programs, the equivalent of 20 percent and 30 percent of a school year.
"Our mission is to transform the life trajectories of children living in under-resourced communities," said Dr. Tiffany Gueye, BELL's chief executive officer. "We know that summer learning loss accounts for a huge portion of the achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students. Our young scholars represent our future. Helping them to make up this lost ground during the summer is crucial to them, their families, and our community as a whole."
The first large-scale deployment of BELL's Pre-K educational model designed to prevent the academic achievement gap from ever starting also produced measurable gains. In partnership with The Big Lift, Inspiring Summers helped 317 rising kindergarteners gain an average of one month of reading skills -- or the equivalent of 10 percent of a school year -- in just five weeks.
"Research increasingly shows the importance of addressing the academic achievement gap as early as Pre-K to prevent the yearly summer slide from ever starting. To prevent this snowball effect from ever occurring, it is critical to expand access to out-of-school academic enrichment programs much earlier in students' lives," Dr. Gueye said.
In addition to the academic impact of summer learning, students strengthened their self-confidence and social skills. Ninety-one percent of teachers and 89 percent of parents reported increased self-confidence among students. In addition, 96 percent of parents reported increased involvement in their child's education, while 90 percent of participating teachers reported that working with BELL helped them develop their professional skills.
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.