YMCA "Power Scholars" Get an Education Edge During Summer Academy

Jul 16, 2018

Jah'rhea Swann works with a counselor at the Wilson Community Center.
Credit Cameron Tirado / WAER News

School is out for the summer, but for the next month nearly 100 kids from all over Syracuse will continue learning at their local YMCA’s.  Rising third, fourth and fifth graders can participate in the Power Scholar Academy at four sites for no cost. 


We caught up with eight-year-old Dominic at the Wilson Community Center, where he read us the power scholar pledge:  

"I am a scholar.  I am the future.  I am intelligent.  I am unique.  When the time comes, I will be a leader.  When there's injustice, I will take a stand.  I will be ambitious.  I will succeed because I am, and always will be, a power scholar, an educated leader for life."

YMCA's at Burnet, Kirk, Wilson and Schiller Parks improve scholars’ literacy and math skills over a five-week period. Education Director of local Y’s Alicia Roberson says emotional learning is just as, if not more, important for kids to get a growth mindset. 

"We really want to encourage them and motiviate them to think of themselves as learners, encourage them to be lifelong learners.  It sets a higher standard.  If you call them just kids or children, it's not as high a standard if you were to call them scholars."

Power Scholars work on projects at the Wilson Community Center, including Nyeisha Jackson, seated left. Dominic is seated next to the counselor in the blue shirt.
Credit Cameron Tirado / WAER News

Roberson says this program is helping students who struggle academically and financially to close the achievement gap.

"They have lack of access between transportation and funding.  A lot of summer camps are really inaccessible to our scholars.  Some of their counterparts have access to a lot of different enrichment activities."

Roberson adds the average student regresses a month over the summer, and even more for kids without quality programming.

"The past two summers, not only have they not fallen behind, they've actually gained.  On average, our scholars gained three months in reading and three months in math."

 Students like 12-year-old Nyeisha Jackson have seen the benefits first hand after attending the camp last year.

The Power Scholars Academy is held in community centers, which are typically within blocks of where the children live.
Credit Cameron Tirado / WAER News

"It's helping me out a little bit with some school stuff.  I'm starting to get A's and B's."

Jah’rhea Swann says it’s easier to learn after being in the program.

"We learned about a lot of things when we went to OCC and the growth mindset.  I would say this program is nice and cool and awesome and fun!"

The Power Scholars Academy is a national program between YMCA and Building Educated Leaders for Life, or BELL, in partnership with Syracuse Parks and Recreation.