For most of the year, Urban Ed equips young adults with the skills they need to enter the workforce. But in the summer, the Lil' Bitties program shifts the focus to a much younger set. At
Lil' Bitties TechnoCamp
, twenty rising kindergartners through 2
graders explore the world of computers--and also the world around them--with loads of energy and enthusiasm.
With a Common Core-aligned curriculum, the Lil' Bitties program aims to reduce summer learning loss for some of the city's most vulnerable children. The goal is to help each child gain the equivalent of a letter grade in enrichment through computer-based activities, as well as tutoring in reading and math.
Test results show that about three-quarters of DC public school students in grades 3-8 are falling below grade-level expectations. TechnoCamp offers an opportunity for kids in the early school years to build a stronger foundation for academic success, and to get excited about technology. The Lil' Bitties love to learn about how computers work on the inside and out, and have the chance to use tech tools in different ways.
At TechnoCamp, time at the screen or reading books is balanced with getting the campers up and moving. Each week ends with "Fun Friday," which means venturing out to experience science, culture, and summer adventures. This year campers have enjoyed Zumba, a moon bounce, and trips to Port Discovery and the Navy Yard splash park. Providing a nutritious breakfast and lunch is another important component of the program. For some children, these are the only meals they receive in the day.
By the end of the month-long TechnoCamp, most campers demonstrate significantly higher readiness for the next grade in school. One second year camper says, "I think that it is great because I can learn so much for school and I make new friends and go on fun field trips. I like that we try new food and things."
This year a generous donation of tablets from JPMorgan Chase & Co. enabled Urban Ed to expand its program offsite and into Ward 7, in partnership with the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative. "It was new for me but as a whole it was a really really nice camp. Kids learned a lot, I like how they balance in the fun and it was nice to see kids progress," says Octavia MyIntyre, Youth Coordinator for East River.
Urban Ed's founder and President, Roxanne J. Williams, sums up her view o
f the program. "Above all, we want the Lil' Bitties to know that they have the power to learn and to do well in school--and we want to see smiles and happiness on their faces. We love to see how proud they are of what they accomplish here."