For 60 students in Durham Public Schools, summer is spent in the halls of Y. E. Smith Elementary School. With math and reading lessons and spelling games, this may seem like summer school. But it’s not — it’s camp.
The Duke Energy Foundation donated $20,000 to the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) BellXcel Summer Learning Program on Thursday, May 23.
The EDCI BellXcel (Building Educated Leaders for Life) camp is a five-week, intensive program for 60 rising first, second and third grade students at Y. E. Smith Elementary, Eastway Elementary and Maureen Joy Charter School. The free program targets summer learning loss while providing students that are in the 25th percentile or lower with opportunities they may not otherwise have.
“Catching these kids up, getting them closer to their peer group, is just phenomenal,” EDCI Board of Directors Chairperson W. Barker French said. “Otherwise, they’ll always be behind.”
The camp also provides breakfast and lunch for all campers. Y.E. Smith Elementary principal Joi Gibson-Robinson said 100 percent of students at the camp qualify for free and reduced lunch.