Kids on Course University

July 5, 2016 01:27 PM

It’s back to class today for some 650 kindergarten through fourth grade students as the doors open to the first year of our Kids on Course University. Classes will be held July 5-August 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Participating students were invited into the program using data from the Winter FAST (Formative Assessment System for Teachers) screening tool. Students were identified from 15 of the District’s Title 1 schools: Arthur, Cleveland, Garfield, Grant, Grant Wood, Harrison, Hiawatha, Hoover, Kenwood, Johnson, Madison, Nixon, Truman, Van Buren, and Wright. Classes will be held at five “Super Sites”: Cleveland, Garfield, Grant Wood, Harrison, and Hiawatha. District school busses will transport students to their site. Certified teachers will provide instruction in reading, writing and mathematics. The day will also include enrichment programming and field trips, as well as breakfast and lunch. 

The program is funded by a three-year grant award totaling $675,000 from the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program. It may be extended for two additional years for a total of more than one million dollars.

“The 21st Century grant, along with the many community organizations supporting this KOC University is providing an opportunity that will improve their academic skills,” said Val Dolezal, Executive Administrator of Preschool-8th Grade.  “The KOC University will provide to our students an opportunity to further learn and grow in the areas of reading and math, while having fun too.  We are so pleased to be partnering with the Zach Johnson Foundation and others to offer this summer opportunity.”

Kids on Course University was developed with the Zach Johnson Foundation and is modeled after its Kids on Course program.  Kids on Course University was held the last three summers serving three of District elementary schools. The reading results demonstrated the effectiveness of the model:

  • 76% of the students who attended Kids on Course University reduced or eliminated summer learning loss.
  • 46% of the students who attended Kids on Course University grew their reading skills, beginning the new school year ahead of where they had finished the previous school year. 

“The kids who attend our summer program start the school year stronger in reading, and we want that same success for even more children in Cedar Rapids,” said Zach Johnson, PGA TOUR golfer and President of the Zach Johnson Foundation. “This expansion of Kids on Course University is an opportunity that combines fun and learning for children who need the boost most."

The Zach Johnson Foundation contributed $96,375 in start-up funds to help launch and staff the program. Other community organizations partnering with the District on the summer program are:

  • Horizons: A Family Service Alliance is providing USDA-approved breakfast and lunch each day ($115,000).
  • Kirkwood Community College is providing adult literacy and adult education program navigators to present at Parent Night events, as well as ongoing support for guardians to increase their skills ($24,000).
  • The United Way of East Central Iowa 55 Initiative is coordinating a Pen Pals for all third and fourth graders ($15,000).
  •  The United Way of East Central Iowa Youth Achievement Corps is funding 12 AmeriCorps members to serve as classroom assistants ($17,360).
  • The Cedar Rapids Schools Foundation is providing funds to hire summer librarians at each location ($12,000).


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