For the past four years, the Southeast Ventura County YMCA has been offering its "Find My Genius" enrichment summer program to kids not reading at grade level. It is now conducting a five-week after-school Find My Genius pilot program at five Conejo Valley schools with the goal to expand the free program year-round.
Two hundred Title One, English language learners and foster youth at Acacia, Ladera, Madrona, Maple and Walnut elementary schools began the program on May 2. Young scholars in first through fifth grades spend three hours every school day participating in a curriculum focusing on enrichment activities, physical fitness and social and emotional learning. The children also receive homework support.
"It's been our dream to offer Find My Genius during the school year," says Megan Glynn, YMCA's Chief Development Officer. "This is the first step. Imagine if children had access to assistance for a full year in a fun, nurturing environment? The main roadblock was funding."
Funding became available when the State of California began awarding Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) grants to school districts to help close the learning gap due to COVID. "Find My Genius fits the essence of the funding requirements," explains Glynn.
The Y is partnering with Conejo Valley Unified and Las Virgenes Unified school districts to offer after-school programs next year. Sumac Elementary School in Agoura Hills will join the five Conejo Valley schools for year-round after-school learning.
The summer Find My Genius five-week program begins in June within the Conejo, Simi, Moorpark and Las Virgenes school districts. The number of children in the program will increase from 240 last year to 400 scholars this summer.
"The program receives generous funding from our YMCA donors," says Glynn. "As we begin our fifth year, they are the reason we've been able to offer the summer Find My Genius at no cost to families."
To find out more about Find My Genius or to learn how to donate, go to https://www.sevymca.org/find-my-genius