Austin, TX (PRWEB) June 10, 2015
Next Monday, June 15, more than 80 Austin Elementary School students will begin a six-week Summer Learning Program hosted by the Andy Roddick Foundation. The second year of this program builds on the Foundation’s mission to work with the community to expand opportunities for young people to learn, thrive and succeed. This year, the Summer Learning Program will have an “Around the World” theme, with a focus on a different continent each week. Africa will be the first continent of focus, highlighted by a visit from Austin’s own Gilbert Tuhabonye on Thursday, June 18 at 10:45 am when media are welcome to come meet the students and hear Gilbert.
For 15 years, the Andy Roddick Foundation has focused on expanding opportunities for young people through partnerships and grant giving, and now through its own direct programming. The Summer Learning Program focuses on literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), arts, and sports. Elementary students engage in a thematic, inquiry-based learning to develop skills to promote achievement both in and out of school. Additionally, students participate in community service projects and families are purposefully engaged through regular communication and events. The goal is to not only provide students with a memorable summer experience but also to build resilient students who have the skills and traits needed to reach their potential. Building these skills early sets students on a path to become successful, engaged community members and leaders.
The first year of the Andy Roddick Foundation Summer Learning Program was a success from all aspects. Teachers and staff at Pecan Springs noted students who attended in the summer were better prepared and involved in the classroom when school began again. More than 90% of the students attended every day of the 5-week program and felt it helped get them ready for the next grade. 100% of parents and guardians supported the program, and the 81 volunteers, who gave almost 630 hours to the program in 2014, unanimously enjoyed the experience and found immense value in it both for the attending students and for themselves.
For year 2, the Summer Learning Program will run from June 15 to July 24 and will take more than 80 students on a virtual tour of the globe. Students will travel to different continents each week where the STEM, sports, literacy, arts and community service activities the students engage in all relate to those continents’ countries and cultures.
Followed by Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and North America respectively, the program will begin with Africa in week 1. Among other activities, the students will take a field trip to a safari park, learn African art, and build rain barrels for their community, learning about the importance of clean water and conservation. Gilbert Tuhabonye will help teach the students about the African continent as well as the water needs. He will also talk with the student about the importance of perseverance, sharing some of his personal story, and will work with them on some running and relays, of course.
Gilbert Tuhabonye is an inspiring and much loved Austinite, founding Gilbert’s Gazelles, a running training group, as well as the Gazelle Foundation whose mission is to build water projects in Africa. He came to the United States 20 years ago, escaping violence in Burundi, his home country in east central Africa. Gilbert applied his love of running in many ways and from a young age, running to the valley’s edge to get his family’s water, running 5 miles to school. Gilbert was a national champion runner by 11th grade, and his speed literally saved his life in Africa. He is now very likely the most popular running coach in Austin and will certainly inspire the students of the Summer Learning Program like he does all he meets.
“I’m so excited Gilbert is coming to help kick off our second year,” said Andy Roddick. “In one person, Gilbert brings many components our Summer Learning Program strives to impart in our students: learning, physical activity, community service and inspiration.”
The Summer Learning Program goals are, that by the end of the six weeks, students demonstrate the ability to set and achieve their own goals, are more physically active, display strong pro-social behavior like teamwork and be more ready for school in the fall. While these are important for all young people, these goals are especially critical for children in underserved neighborhoods who can lose at least two months of math and reading skills over the summer months if they are not engaged in quality summer learning. This loss has a cumulative effect over time, with students from under-resourced areas falling further behind each summer, putting them behind their peers each fall and less ready for college and careers.
Research shows that positive programming outside of school greatly improves the lives of underserved young people leading not only to better grades and test scores but also improved health and higher graduation rates. Programming during these hours is needed to keep young people engaged and thriving. Yet, for young people in underserved communities, there is not enough public funding available to support the needed programming. Private funding from organizations like the Andy Roddick Foundation is needed to combine with public funding to fill the gap. Programs like the Summer Learning Program will help participants maintain their academic skills, as well as gain new ones, better preparing them for school in the Fall.
About Andy Roddick Foundation
The Andy Roddick Foundation works with its community to expand opportunities for young people to learn, thrive and succeed. The Foundation is the vision of now retired tennis professional Andy Roddick who established it in 2000. Always focused on inspiring and empowering young people, the Andy Roddick Foundation moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas in 2012. The Foundation is granting funds to partners with programs that align with a goal of closing the opportunity gap for young people living in under-resourced areas. Beyond grant making, the Foundation delivers direct service with activities like its own multi-week Summer program for Elementary School students. For additional information, call 512.298.1960, follow on Twitter @theARFoundation, or visit http://www.arfoundation.org.