West Cook YMCA

Power Scholars Academy (PSA)

in partnership with river forest school district 90

Dates: June 21-July 22

Grades: Rising 1st-4th grade

Program Location: Lincoln Elementary School | 511 Park Avenue, River Forest

Time: 8:30am-3:00pm

West Cook YMCA Program Contact: 708-657-0701 or powerscholars@westcookymca.org


The Y is closing the academic achievement gap with programs that improve students’ educational readiness, engagement, and outcomes, while helping them grow emotionally and physically, too. Third-grade reading skills predict high school graduation. That’s why the Y’s Summer Learning Loss Prevention Program, Power Scholars AcademyTM, helps students that are reading below grade level. The program focuses on phonics, writing, and reading to boost literacy skills, and also focuses on math skills, with enrichment activities to support physical and social-emotional growth.

In partnership with the River Forest School District 90, Power Scholars AcademyTM is a five-week summer program designed to not only tackle summer learning loss in math and reading but to foster physical and social-emotional growth. Scholars receive strong academic support from local certified teachers, as well as an array of enrichment activities where students will be able to enjoy physical activity, cooking classes, improv/acting classes, Percussion music, and dance!

The program focuses on academic instruction and remediation in literacy and mathematics. With the adoption and early implementation of the Common Core State Standards, the curriculum has been expanded to include new resources consistent with common core, and to increase our focus on project-based learning and blended (technology) learning. The specific curricula (topics/units) used with scholars will be guided by the school and its efforts to implement the Common Core standards, as well as instructional focus areas, and the availability of computer and tablet devices to access online curriculum.

A typical elementary PSA program has three hours of academic instructional time, split between literacy and math, and two enrichment classes on Monday through Thursday. In many programs, Fridays are reserved for guest speakers, field trips, or work on community-service projects. 

Program Model Design includes:

Five weeks of academic instruction in conjunction with YMCA summer enrichment experiences. The program operates from Monday through Friday for 6.5 hours per day. The following key program elements make up the experience:

Community Time: Students, called “scholars,” start the day with a nutritious breakfast and community time activity to develop leadership skills and strong friendships with fellow scholars and staff.

Literacy: Certified teachers lead literacy instruction using a customized Scholastic curriculum. The curriculum focuses on the priority skills critical for student success: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. It provides teachers with highly specific instruction and explicit, consistent, easy-to-follow lessons. The program includes the STAR Enterprise Assessments, by Renaissance Learning, on a pre- and post-program basis. STAR assessments are built for measuring progress against Common Core standards.

Math: Certified teachers lead math instruction using a customized curriculum developed by Scholastic. The curriculum focuses on foundational concepts to prepare students for the deep mathematical understandings of the Common Core State Standards and is designed as a supplemental program for grade 1-8 scholars. The curriculum blends conceptual understanding, problem solving, and foundational skills in targeted intervention modules that get at the misconceptions that so often prevent student progress. Throughout the lessons, scholars engage in the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice as they build their conceptual understanding and critical thinking.

Lunch & Recreation: Scholars eat a healthy lunch and spend approximately 30 minutes engaging in physical activity during recess.

Enrichment: Scholars rotate through enrichment opportunities during the afternoon. Themes typically include:

  • Life and leadership development, such as character development, social and emotional learning, civic values, substance and violence prevention, and service-learning.
  • Science, technology, engineering, and math enrichment courses that enable scholars to engage in these fields in fun, non-traditional
  • Health and fitness activities including a wide array of traditional and nontraditional (1 hour daily required)
  • Creative arts providing scholars opportunities to explore dance, art, writing, music, drama, and other artistic expression.
  • Additional activities are considered and included as determined through community

Fostering the well-being of scholars and educators alike leads to stronger communities. A strong social and emotional learning curriculum is vital to creating classroom experience aimed at supporting the whole child. It empowers a growth mindset in youth as they forge a path to excel in learning and in life and can lead to both heightened self-confidence as well as valuing diverse perspectives.


Instill a growth mindset

  • Prepare scholars to reach for their full potential to learn and lead.
  • Empower scholars to take safe risks and experience vulnerability while feeling supported and connected.

Encourage mindfulness

  • Connect scholars to the present moment in the context of the learning environment.    
  • Model learning to listen to the needs of their minds and bodies.

Grade appropriate activities and game

  • Activities and games aligned with CASEL core competencies.    
  • 11 units organized by grade band (K-2, 3-6, 7-8).
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