Since 2018, the Shasta Family YMCA has partnered with BellXcel to power their evidence-based summer program designed to reduce summer learning loss for over 600 academically at-risk students. The initiative aims to also increase skills in literacy and math and grow healthy mindsets.
Denise Villanueva, the senior program director of childcare, said the Y is excited to serve over 300 hundred scholars in the program this summer. She said there has never been a more important time to invest in youth and to mentor the most vulnerable populations.
Below, Villanueva elaborates on the Y’s experience with BellXcel, its benefits to program participants, and more.
Why did you decide to partner with BellXcel? What problem were you looking to solve; or what solution were you looking to incorporate?
The Shasta Family YMCA decided to partner with BellXcel to help close the achievement gaps observed in Shasta County, California. We wanted to build a high-quality, evidence-based program where every component of a scholar’s day is modeled after serving the whole child and incorporating the YMCA’s core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring.
The research and resources that are part of the BellXcel solution (Arly), provides recreation professionals the tools and content they need to build impactful programs. We found our Power Scholars Academy is successful by following the framework set by BellXcel. It’s essential the program combines academic instruction from certified teachers in math and literature with enrichment activities that encourage teamwork and increase confidence.
Another important component is serving nutritious meals to scholars to help fuel their bodies and minds while in the program. The last component is providing fun and educational weekly field trips to encourage attendance and for scholars to learn the importance of higher education and career opportunities.
What are the benefits to your business as a result of this partnership?
Our Power Scholars Academy has been effective in not only reducing summer learning loss in our scholars, but also increasing skills in literacy and math and growing healthy mindsets and self-confidence. BellXcel’s solution has a comprehensive model of assessment tools available to evaluate the success of our program.
To accurately measure the academic improvement made by our scholars during the four weeks of the program, the Shasta Family YMCA administers the STAR Renaissance Assessment to each scholar in the first and final week of the program. We have had remarkable results in math and literacy with the scholars able to gain up to three months of skills and not slide the traditional two-to-three months back in achievement.
From administering post-program surveys designed to measure the social-emotional learning growth of the scholars, parent satisfaction and program effectiveness, 100% of teachers would recommend our Power Scholars Academy to parents. In addition, over 90% of parents reported their child’s confidence increased as a result of attending our summer program.
What are the benefits to your members as a result of this partnership?
Without support and invention, many of our youth in under-resourced communities of Shasta County will continue to fall behind. Children from low-income homes often do not have access to learning outside a traditional school day and on average lose three months of academic skills while on summer break. Peers from higher incomes do not see the “summer slide” and often remain at the same academic level or higher.
The YMCA continues to build achievement gap programs that focus on inclusion and are reflective of the diversity within the community. With generous community support, the Shasta Family YMCA is able to provide this evidenced-based program at no cost to families.
Have you been pleasantly surprised by working with BellXcel in any way?
Through our six-year partnership, the Shasta Family YMCA is consistently impressed with BellXcel’s ability to elevate programming by introducing new professional development courses, digital tools for enrollment management and family engagement, and high-quality partner support.
What else can you tell other rec center professionals about the benefits of working with BellXcel?
The most valuable benefit that rec center professionals gain from working with BellXcel is their evidence-based approach will help you plan and implement your initiative step-by-step. Every aspect of programming is already built in, and their solution will guide you through the process with personal coaching.
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