If you have been following PYB’s programs this past year – our after-school Middle School Partnership Program, and now our Collegiate Summer Camp Series – you may have noticed several trends, many of which are a direct reflection of our organization’s mission to empower young people as students, athletes, and positive leaders. Programmatically, we have carefully crafted PYB’s experiences to incorporate basketball skill-building and game play, academic enrichment and supports, leadership development, exposure to high-quality college campuses and facilities, and engagement with devoted and caring coaches and mentors. Additionally, our target student-athlete population largely includes young people who are within their middle school years. This age group has been deliberately selected to be PYB’s participating student-athletes for our programs.
In Philadelphia, the high school dropout rate for lower-income children in neighborhood schools hovers around 45%, and
less than a quarter of the graduates enroll in a four-year post-secondary experience. According to a report released from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC), dropout from school can be directly linked to increased unemployment, less earning potential, poverty and reliance on public assistance. Young people who dropout of high school are twice as likely to live in poverty as their counterparts who have graduated high school and three times as likely as those who have earned a post-secondary degree. Furthermore, studies conducted by Dr. Robert Balfanz, a research professor at Johns Hopkins, show that key indicators of dropout are exhibited in student behavior as early as middle school. If poor attendance or unsatisfactory behavior and course failure in Math and English are presented in a child in sixth grade, he/she has only a 10 percent to 20 percent likelihood of graduating from high school.
The summer months, in particular, are found to be even more delicate. Summer learning loss is a phenomenon that affects nearly all of our country’s children. It’s important for kids to have time for relaxation and fun, but doing so at the expense of their growth as students can be problematic. A 2011 study conducted by Rand Education and commissioned by the Wallace Foundation found that upon returning to school in the fall, students on average performed at a level approximately one month behind that at which they performed before the start of summer. Even more notable is that the study also found that the achievement gap between students from affluent families and those from lower-income families is only widened during the summer months.
At PYB, we recognize this impressionable time period in a child’s life and have designed our programs to assist our young people during their transition to adulthood. Through PYB’s strategic programming that utilizes culturally relevant text and practices that are easily identifiable in their lives, our student-athletes will be equipped with tools to find their own voices and will enable them to freely share their ideas and life experiences. Our young people will be provided with the resources and guidance to connect and engage intellectually, with the goal of ultimately increasing their opportunities for future successes, and as they enter into the next school year.