WCASD Receives Donation from Believe & Achieve
The West Chester Area School District's Jump Start summer program is getting a little extra financial boost thanks to the generosity of the Believe and Achieve Foundation. Representatives from Believe and Achieve recently presented the district with a $10,000 check which will help cover costs associated with the program. The Exton-based foundation provides access to basic needs, making a difference in the lives of children and families. The foundation believes that by satisfying basic needs, children can create their own path toward achievement.
The West Chester Area School District rolled out the Jump Start program in 2014 in a limited capacity but quickly expanded it after recognizing a greater need to provide more opportunities to the students enrolled. The program provides an equitable level of support and services to which English Learner (EL) students would not necessarily have access.
"Jump Start is designed to give our EL students a jump start. It's literally in the title of the program," said Steve Werner, West Chester Area School District's Assistant Director of Pupil Services.
"The program helps students to brush up on academics and close any gaps they may have. It's also about giving these students experiences that they may not have for a number of different reasons – parents may be working, they might not be able to afford things, or they may not know how to access these things."
According to Werner, there are 494 EL students enrolled in the West Chester Area School District. Approximately half have enrolled in Jump Start this summer. Werner describes Jump Start as a half academic/half summer camp. Believe and Achieve's $10,000 gift will help cover the costs of field trips, STEM activities, and summer supplies to make the students' summer experience a more enjoyable one.
"We want them to have the same level of experience that their non-EL peers are getting. We've had EL students break into tears when their teacher asks, 'What did you do over the summer?' because they had nothing to talk about. Jump Start gives them experiences and exposure to different things in our community and surrounding cities. When their teachers ask that question, I want the toughest part of the assignment to be to pick the one activity that was their favorite."
In addition to helping fund field trips and other activities, Believe and Achieve's donation will help cover the costs of a produce stand at Hillsdale Elementary Schools. Jumpstart students will be able to "shop" once a week and bring home fresh fruits and vegetables. 5th-grade students will operate the stand. The Chester County Food Bank is providing some of the produce.
"This program means everything to me," said Werner. " It's about making school a place where these students feel like they belong and that they can achieve anything if they are given a chance."
Jump Start begins for EL students on June 28 at Hillsdale Elementary School.
Believe and Achieve was founded in 2010 by local entrepreneur and philanthropist Fred Gunther. In 2014, the foundation joined forces with Chester County native and NFL quarterback Matt Ryan. Since 2010, Believe and Achieve has donated over $1 million to support children and families in Chester County.