As a response to the needs expressed by parents of D.C. Virgo middle school students, the BRC piloted the Y.E.Z. Summer Initiative in 2014 to provide an opportunity for at-risk 6th-8th grade students to have access to a 5 week academic and enrichment based summer program free of charge. The BRC has adopted the acronym STEAM for the opportunities available to the students, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.


The main goals of the program are:

  • Reduce summer learning loss among low-income students who are already an average of two grade levels behind in reading and math
  • Provide services and resources to address the mental health and behavioral needs of students
  • Provide participants with exposure to a wide variety of enriching activities and cultural experiences through afternoon outreach classes and weekly field trips


More specifically, the school break program offers the following for the students to achieve these goals:


  • 2 weeks of programing during the fall and spring intercession breaks, and a 2 week summer fast start program (beginning in the summer of 2017)  that will take place Monday-Friday from 8:30-3:00
  • Daily academic morning sessions focused on math and literacy incorporated within a STEAM based curriculum taught by certified middle school teachers
  • Daily afternoon enrichment classes provided by BRC collaborative non-profit partners to provide students with exposure to a wide range of activities including: gardening, dance, photography, golf, graphic design, and many other classes
  • Weekly leadership and teambuilding activities
  • Group mentoring sessions and character-building activities three days a week using research based curriculum.
  • Weekly guest speakers from the community to teach students about different career paths and options
  • Weekly field trips to provide students with exposure to places in and around New Hanover County


The evaluation report from the pilot program showed that the initial 60 participants made an average of 2 months grade equivalent growth in reading and 2.4 months of grade equivalent growth in math with 91% daily attendance rate during the 5 week summer program.


One of the long-term goals of the Y.E.Z. Summer Initiative that has been implemented is for D.C. Virgo middle school and their feeder elementary school, Snipes Elementary, to become year-round schools. In the spring of 2015 the NHCS school board approved the request for both schools to move to a year round schedule in the 2016-2017 school year. Since then, the BRC’s 5 week Summer Program has been transformed into the School Break program that will take place during the 3 week intercessions in the fall and spring with a two week remediation session in the summer. This change will prevent students from being out of their structured school environment for long periods of time during the summer and would instead allow students to have instruction on a continual basis in order to prevent summer learning loss.