YPS receives Summer of Youth grant

YORK — Thanks to a new Summer of Youth grant the York Middle School Summer Program received, students in York will get to use virtual reality equipment to wonder through the milky way, experience other cultures and so much more this summer.

According to York Public Schools, Beyond School Bells, an initiative of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education, has selected York Middle School Summer Program as one of the Nebraska communities to receive the grant to support summer learning opportunities. These funds were made available through federal dollars as well as private funds and are aimed at increasing high quality summer learning programs in communities where there simply aren’t enough spots for the children who need them.

The Nebraska Department of Education launched the Summer of Youth grant program with $720,000 received from the federal government’s COVID relief funding, termed ESSER III.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Deborah Frison celebrated this round of statewide grants.

“NDE is thrilled to provide these communities with the additional federal support they need to expand summer learning opportunities – especially since these grants reflect the kinds of programs youth want. Research confirms the vital role fun and engaging summer learning programs play in supporting student growth and positive youth development and we are thrilled to offer these communities additional funding to allow more Nebraska students to make lifelong memories of a great summer,” Frison said.

Beyond School Bells is partnering with NDE to leverage these one-time Federal dollars with additional Nebraska philanthropic support, to create a pool of nearly $1 million to invest in select Nebraska communities through the Summer of Youth project.

Jeff Cole, Network Lead of Beyond School Bells, noted “We are thrilled the Summer of Youth grant will help communities across the state provide more Nebraska youth with opportunities get out in their communities, get their hands dirty and have a summer learning experience.”

Nebraska’s summer programs provide a safe, supportive space for youth-led activities that are proven to help children and teens connect, learn and grow. Summer programs offer hands-on engaging projects and team-building activities that foster resilience, confidence, and healthy relationships. These are local programs staffed by caring mentors.

“This Summer of Youth grant will allow us to offer York middle school participants a week of outdoor exploring and rock climbing, a week filled with aerospace engineering and rocket building, and virtual reality experiences while utilizing our new VR equipemnt,” said Amy Vernon, program director for site.

Superintendent Mitch Bartholomew added that this grant directly supports the district’s goals for helping all students succeed. “We are very excited for our students to have this exciting opportunity. We know that summer is a time when students can get reengaged in learning and through this grant, more students will have an opportunity to utilize virtual reality.”

This summer, the program has 146 students enrolled in grades Kindergarten through eighth.

Twenty-four of these students are in the middle school and will be extended the opportunity to enjoy the experiences the grant has funded.

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