By the Power Scholars Academy: BELL and Y-USA Take Summer to Scale

As cities around the country prepare to launch their summer learning models, and we here in Providence gear up for the AfterZone Summer Scholars, the question of how to cost-effectively scale summer learning while retaining a high level of program quality is something everyone is thinking about.

Cross-organizational collaboration is increasingly emerging as a possible answer. BELL‘s dynamic new partnership with the YMCA of the USA as outlined below illustrates how two national non-profits can combine their respective strengths to serve more students in a way that has long-term sustainability.

by Tiffany Gueye, Chief Executive Officer of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)

posted 5.22.14

What happens when two national nonprofits team up to expand learning time?  The Power Scholars AcademyTM is created, and a pathway to scale summer learning opportunities emerges.

This June, BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) are working together to deliver BELL’s summer learning model through eight YMCA associations and their partner schools in Montgomery, AL; Denver, CO; Hartford, CT; Washington, DC; Clearwater and Orlando, FL; St. Paul, MN; and San Antonio, TX.

Here’s how it works:  BELL is training Power Scholars Academy leadership teams in each community.  We are providing academic curriculum, supporting program operations through technical assistance, overseeing quality assurance, and evaluating outcomes.  YMCAs are enrolling students, recruiting, hiring and training staff, managing program operations, delivering enrichment activities, and facilitating school partnerships.  

Partner schools are providing use of classrooms and other facilities, as well as transportation, breakfast and lunch for scholars, supporting teacher recruitment, identifying enrollment criteria for students, and providing additional in-kind support.  BELL and the Y are each raising philanthropic support from donors such as The Wallace Foundation so that the Power Scholars Academy can be delivered free-of-cost to families, and to enable BELL and the Y to thoughtfully plan and prepare for program expansion. 

We plan to reach 1,000 scholars this summer.  Next year, our scaling plan accelerates.  We will be working with the Y to manage an RFP process that will result in up to 20 more Ys delivering the Power Scholars Academy in 2015, and up to 20 more Ys delivering the program in 2016.   

With success, the Power Scholars Academy will grow to serve 5,000 scholars annually by 2016 – a conservative estimate, assuming each Y operates one program site.  Local Ys can expand the program at a pace that makes sense for them, adding one or more additional school partners each year.  Some Ys will choose to add a second, third, or fourth site and serve hundreds of additional scholars.  The Power Scholars Academy could very well reach tens of thousands of scholars throughout the country. 

We look forward to combining our expertise in delivering high-impact summer learning with the Y’s national community-based network.  We hope that this innovation in service delivery and scaling inspires others to find ways to work together, leverage each others’ strengths, and better serve scholars and families.