For more than a year, your United Way facilitated a community wide process to identify what gaps, if any, existed in the focus area of education in Pickens County. Through extensive research, focus groups and community conversations, the results were clear: Summer Learning Loss was the area that needed our attention.
No matter how much high-quality learning goes on in the classroom during the school year, all young people experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Low-income students are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon and lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-income peers make slight gains. Lower-income youth have less access to summer learning opportunities, and as a result, are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.(1)
United Way of Pickens County partnered with the School District of Pickens County and the Pickens County YMCA to develop Camp iRock, a summer learning loss prevention program aimed at bridging the achievement gap by providing high quality reading instruction alongside enriching camp experiences for low-level readers in rising 2nd to rising 4th grade. The 2015 pilot program served 66 students in the Easley area, and the 2016 expanded program served 162 students county-wide with sites in Easley, Liberty and Pickens.
Certified teachers, YMCA camp counselors, and Call Me MiSTER interns provided individualized and small group attention to the campers. Camp iRock included four hours of high quality reading instruction per day; bus transportation; breakfast, lunch and snacks; swim lessons; field trips; physical activity; team building; and character development- all at no cost to the student or family.
(1) Source: National Summer Learning Association