Governor Branstad will visit Ames Middle School on Wednesday, July 6, at 12:30 p.m. to learn more about Story County’s summer academic, enrichment and meal programs. A coalition of more than ten community partners, led by United Way of Story County, works together to offer six weeks of academic support to students identified by Ames Community Schools as struggling readers. Students in grades K-8 spend the mornings focused on strengthening academic skills and avoiding the summer slide. Students in grades K-4 stay for the enrichment activities to round out their experience. All students are served breakfast and lunch.
“This program addresses a number of challenges faced by students each summer,” said Jean Kresse, President and CEO of United Way of Story County, which facilitates the partnership. “We are proud to work with so many organizations to bring support to students that struggle with the dual challenges of reading proficiency and food insecurity.”
Providing students access to quality learning and instruction during the summer is critical to avoid a loss of skills. Ames participates in the Grade Level Reading Campaign which addresses support for students in the areas of school readiness, school attendance and summer learning. These three factors are critical to putting students on a path to reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Students who do not meet this benchmark are more likely to drop out of school before earning a high school diploma.
July is traditionally the month that sees a sharp increase in need for free meals. Students on free and reduced lunch do not have access to healthy, affordable meals during the summer. In Story County there are about 25% of students eligible for the free and reduced school lunch program. With the support of Ames Reads and the Story County Hunger Collaboration, there are now 5 summer programs working together to support children experiencing food insecurity. Programs include Little Cyclone Summer Camp, Food for Thought (Nevada), Colo Public Library, Ballard summer program, Ames Public Library and the Boys & Girls Club.
The Little Cyclone Summer Camp is a joint effort of many organizations including Ames Community School District, Youth and Shelter Services, Volunteer Center of Story County, United Ways of Iowa and United Way Worldwide, Ames Public Library, and Raising Readers of Story County.
UWSC is a strategic leader in building countywide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community.