Mayor Stoney recognizes Richmond’s YMCA Power Scholars on Summer Learning Day

Mayor Stoney celebrated National Summer Learning Week by spotlighting the Richmond Public Schools’ first class of YMCA Power Scholars and proclaiming July 11, 2019 as Summer Learning Day in the City of Richmond.

The nationally-implemented Power Scholars Academy, provided by the YMCA of Greater Richmond with curriculum designed by BellXcel, augments traditional summer school with academic enrichment, field trips, mentorship, and family engagement activities. 

Over 2,500 students across Virginia will participate in Power Scholars Academy this summer. This summer, all RPS elementary and middle summer school sites are participating in Power Scholars Academy. Richmond’s program is the largest site in the nation with over 1,000 students currently enrolled.

“With so many of our RPS scholars enrolled, Richmond is leading the way in summer learning,” said Mayor Stoney. “We have willing and able partners in the city; this is what happens when we bring them together.” 

Mayor Stoney was joined at Broad Rock Elementary School by RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras; Dr. Lauren Gilbert, CEO of BellXcel; Tim Joyce, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Richmond; Turner Thompson, Regional Market Manager for Walmart; and Dr. Jamelle S. Wilson, Dean of the School of Professional & Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond and chair of the Community Foundation’s Board of Governors’ Community Impact Committee.

The Power Scholars Academy combines a number of best-practice elements to meaningfully engage with students and beat the “summer slump.” For at least six hours a day, five days a week, the Scholars will learn on- and off-site. The extended day model both allows parents to work later into the afternoon and provides ample time for extracurricular enrichment activities.

“The Y is committed to equity in learning in all of our communities, and the Power Scholars program is one way that we can partner with school systems to ensure our students are not experiencing summer learning loss.  We are excited to extend this partnership to the entire Richmond Public School system and continue our service to kids and families,” said YMCA CEO and President Tim Joyce.

Local partners including Art180, the Science Museum, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, the University of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University have ensured that Richmond’s own Power Scholars will enjoy field trips to experience the rich offerings in the metro area.

“Our students deserve access to rigorous and exciting opportunities all year long,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras. “We are grateful for our continued partnership with YMCA and the Community Foundation, as well as our new partnership with Walmart. We also thank the Mayor for his leadership in prioritizing high-quality out-of-school time options for our students that will ignite a love of learning through the summer and beyond.”

Because summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap, the partners sought out an evidence-based program with tested curriculum. Power Scholars Academy’s curriculum, designed by BellXcel, aligns with the Virginia Standards of Learning while incorporating social-emotional learning. Past participants have shown significant, measurable growth in literacy and math skills. The use of the BellXcel curriculum was made possible by a generous contribution from Walmart. 

"Walmart is excited to support Richmond Public Schools and the YMCA’s Power Scholars Academy program this summer for kids in our community,” said Turner Thompson, Walmart’s Richmond Market Manager. “By supporting the highly innovative and effective BellXcel curriculum, we are confident the participating students will engage in a highly productive and meaningful summer experience."

Summer learning is a component of Mayor Stoney’s out-of-school time initiative, which convenes key community partners like the YMCA, the Community Foundation, Richmond Public Schools, and the Mayor’s Office with the goal of providing high-quality activities and programming outside of the traditional school day.

“This collaboration to enrich summer school is one more step towards giving our kids the opportunities they need and deserve year-round, both in and out of school,” said Mayor Stoney. “We look forward to continuing to deepen and expand access to activities like these for all of Richmond’s children.”