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Kansas City Public Schools partner with community groups to expand summer learning opportunities

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Above image credit: Students at the YMCA Summer Learning Loss Prevention program at Satchel Paige Elementary listen to a story last summer. The YMCA is one of several community partners working with KCPS to expand summer learning outreach. (Photo by Lindsey Foat)

From an arts-focused camp with the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey to swimming lessons through the YMCA to kindergarten boot camp, Kansas City Public Schools is expanding its summer learning offerings through collaborations with community partners.

KCPS Superintendent Steve Green announced today that working with partners, including Freedom Schools, Boys and Girls Club, Upper Room, LINC, AileyCamp and the YMCA, will allow the district to increase their summer outreach from 2,500 students to spots for 8,500. Nearly 7,000 students have already enrolled.

“This is something that is new and has not been done,” said Green during a press conference at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. “We are about the business of serving our children, but know that we cannot do what we need to do alone.”

By partnering with organizations that, in most cases, have been running their own summer learning programs for many years, Green said that the district will be able to reach more students with both enrichment activities and remedial instruction.

“We were all struggling in different ways, and creating this coalition has created a kind of safety net,” Green said.

Although each of the partners will maintain some of their unique focuses, the hope is to gain some shared accountability and efficiencies across the 46 different summer learning sites.

The Upper Room program has been working in churches in the urban core since 1999 to provide literacy-focused summer camps for elementary and middle school students.

Calvary Temple Baptist Church is one of the churches that works with the Upper Room and will be one of the KCPS partnership sites.

Calvary’s Rev. Eric Williams spoke during the press conference and said that he applauds how the district is bringing together so many groups to make a greater collective impact.

“For me, this actually represents a tremendous step backwards,” Williams said. “Backwards to a time when there was collaboration and that all the players understood fully that we can’t make this journey alone… For me, collaboration means that everybody has skin in the game.”

Most of the programs start at the beginning of June, and enrollment applications will be accepted until June 3.

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