ECEN and Wando Community Education unite to bridge academic gap

  • Wednesday, June 19, 2013

East Cooper Ecumenical Network and Wando Community Education are pleased to announce a summer scholarship program to fund tuition for local elementary students to attend Kaleidoscope summer day camp. These two organizations combined forces, and funds, to extend the scholarship opportunity to all 32 students currently enrolled in the I-Beam mentoring program at Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary. Of those students, 11 are committed to participate in the pilot. Scholarship funds will cover the $130/week fee for up to eight weeks per enrolled student (the program maximum) and the one-time $25 supply fee for each student participating in the program.

The Wando Community Education Kaleidoscope program operates full-day summer programs for children grades K-5 running June 17-Aug. 9. Kaleidoscope is an educational summer enrichment program designed to stimulate student’s interest around topic-themed weeks. Each week of the program will focus on a different topic and twice weekly field trips are planned according to the programming.

Key goals of the pilot scholarship program include providing a safe, engaging and mainstreamed summer environment, minimizing summer academic decline and continuing opportunities for volunteer mentors to work with I-Beam students.

I-Beam is a lunchtime literacy and mentoring program that connects volunteer adult mentors with second through fifth grade students who scored below the 25th percentile on MAP testing and/or qualify for free and reduced lunch and/or are recommended into the program by their teacher. On the same day each week, volunteers travel to a nearby elementary school for one hour of lunch socializing and one-on-one reading with their student. For the one hour session, the mentors promote the skills of reading, the love of reading and encouraging, consistent adult relationships.

About a year ago, the I-Beam Community Steering Team in conjunction with the East Cooper Ecumenical Network (ECEN), created a Youth Development Task Force to explore the opportunities to help bridge the academic gap for I-Beam students during the summer. Youth Development Task Force connected Wando Community Education team members with East Cooper Ecumenical Network to raise the funds to offer a pilot scholarship program. The vision of ECEN is to build a community where all of its members are safe, healthy and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential – and this opportunity provides just that. “Education is clearly one of the most important things we can offer our youth, and to work with partners across the community to be able to provide such an enriching program for the summer is exciting. We are so grateful to the educators, administrators, parents and students who are working tirelessly to see that these youth have every advantage possible to succeed,” David McNair, ECEN Leadership Team Chair.

Pilot site Principal, Lona Pounder, expresses anticipation for this summer opportunity. “Whitesides Elementary is excited to be extending the I-Beam mentor relationships with our students through the Kaleidoscope program this summer. We really appreciate the fact that our volunteers are able to continue the support of literacy in our school throughout the summer break.”

East Cooper Ecumenical Network (ECEN) is a coalition of churches and community agencies committed to join together to break the cycle of generational poverty in the east Cooper communities. ECEN serves as the umbrella organization for I-Beam elementary mentoring program and Youth Development Task Force as well as other community initiatives. For more information on the initiatives of ECEN, please visit www.ecensc.org or contact LaBruce Trammell at labruce.trammell@ecensc.org.

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