Power Scholars Academy is a “Summer Gain” for Whitney’s Sons
Whitney Perez first learned about the Lancaster Family YMCA’s Power Scholars Academy in the spring of 2017 when she received a flyer about the program through her son’s classroom at Carter and MacRae Elementary School.
Power Scholars Academy was created through a partnership between the YMCA of the USA and the national nonprofit BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life). It is a five-week summer program that tackles summer learning loss for children who live in urban communities and who lack access to summer learning opportunities. The goal of the program is to enhance overall youth development, academic performance and graduation rates. Power Scholars AcademyTM provides support in literacy, math, enrichment activities in STEM and the arts, along with a health curriculum.
Whitney is a mother of five children and three of her sons – Nehemiah, Josiah and Lemuel – were in the eligible age range (1st-5th grades) for the program, so she decided to give it a try and enroll all three boys. “I liked the idea of an all-day program that would provide consistency in learning through the summer and also be fun for the boys,” said Whitney.
2017 was the first year that the Lancaster Family YMCA offered the program in partnership with the School District of Lancaster for students from King and Carter and MacRae Elementary Schools. Based on the success of that inaugural year, the School District of Lancaster asked the YMCA to offer Power Scholars Academy as their 2018 summer learning loss prevention program for students across the district.
Whitney’s boys had such a positive experience with Power Scholars Academy that first year that they went again in this past summer.
“Power Scholars has made a big difference in their reading skills and desire to read. They wanted to read more often and it became a normal part of their day. They would often bring books home with them,” shares Whitney. “Two of my sons have some special learning needs and not every program has the ability to work with them. The teachers in Power Scholars were so patient, loving and understanding with them. I felt they cared for them as individuals. As a mother of 5 children I want to provide opportunities equally for all my kids, but financially that can be tough. The Power Scholars program is a helpful resource for parents and I felt great being able to offer this to my kids.”
Whitney also cites the Y’s partnership with the School District of Lancaster on this program as being beneficial to both her and the boys. “We saw familiar faces from the regular school year and that added to our comfort level. The boys enjoyed being with friends from school that otherwise they wouldn’t have seen as much over the summer.” But most importantly, Whitney states, “Because of Power Scholars, my sons were ready to start school.”
The Lancaster Family YMCA offers Power Scholars Academy free of cost to eligible families in the School District of Lancaster, as part of its key mission priority to Close the Achievement Gap. The program is made possible through a combination of funding from individual local donors, local and national foundations and the School District of Lancaster. 213 children were served through Power Scholars AcademyTM in 2018.