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Through a collaborative partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs aims to help improve the city’s high school graduation rate. Within the safety of the Clubs and surrounded by positive role models, members receive academic support that both complements and builds upon school day curriculum.

From early childhood literacy instruction to college access and success programs, there are education programs suited for every member.

MarVan Scholars prepares Milwaukee’s future leaders for success by improving academic engagement through intentional learning, increasing time on task and building on academic goals through extended day educational opportunities. Scholars in grades K-12 participate in literacy and math at the Clubs, as well as coaching sessions from on-site academic coordinators. Staff participate in training and receive coaching and support from MarVan Scholars Program Managers.

The MarVan Scholars pilot began with eight Clubs in the 2015-2016 academic year. MarVan Scholars has grown to accommodate all Club sites in the Greater Milwaukee area. We are proud to offer academic enrichment programming to every Club member.

The program is made possible by a $5 million gift from Keith Mardak and his wife, Mary Vandenberg, long-time supporters of Boys & Girls Clubs.

The core programs that we support are LitART, ST Math, Summer Brain Gain, NBA Math Hoops, and B.L.A.C.K.

LitART is a literacy curriculum that aims to foster a love for reading. Clubs are given 4 themes each school year, each scheduled to last about 8 weeks. Members in grades K-6 have themes with 6-8 pictures books in both fiction and non-fiction options. Middle school and high school members are given a choice between 2 novels per theme.

ST Math is a PreK-8 visual instructional program that leverages the brain’s innate Spatial-Temporal reasoning, or the ability to mentally move objects in space and time, to solve mathematical problems.

Summer Brain Gain is a fun, interactive, project-based learning program designed for summer in the Club. These experiences are designed to keep youth engaged throughout the summer so Club youth can stay on track while having fun with their peers, exploring new topics and ideas, and learning important skills along the way. SBG curriculum is divided into modules, each that have lessons for an entire week, and is divided into 3 age groups: 6-8, 9-11 & 12-18.

NBA Math Hoops program features a comprehensive community program, board game, mobile apps, and classroom curricula that allow students to learn fundamental math and social-emotional skills through the game of basketball.

B.L.A.C.K. resources are a compilation of activities, discussion questions and read aloud videos based on books. These books were chosen because they are culturally relevant, they are representative of our Club members here in Milwaukee, and they are inspiring. For these reasons, we named the resources B.L.A.C.K. which stands for Books for Learning About Culture and Kindness. You will also find some anti-bias, anti-racist (ABAR) resources in the collection.

“As a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools, I want to give kids the same tools I had to build a successful life.”

Keith Mardak and Mary Vandenberg

Offered at 7 school sites in the city of Milwaukee, SPARK Early Literacy Program traditionally helps boost the literacy skills of more than 300 K5 through 3rd grade students annually. An evaluation of SPARK through an Investing in Innovations Grant showed a statistically significant and sizeable impact on its participants.

The program operates in collaboration with the schools and classroom teachers. SPARK offers one-on-one tutoring sessions and individual lessons are developed for each student both virtually and in person. The program also includes family engagement, so parents and guardians have the tools they need to help their children be successful. We offer events to bring families together to build a community of support.

SPARK is funded by generous donations from the Milwaukee Partnership Schools project, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy project from the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary & Secondary Education.

Every day, the Clubs offer Power Hour during the first hour after school. This is a time for members to focus on homework or participate in differentiated educational activities and interventions. Additionally, the Clubs offer further programming to meet the academic needs of kids and teens.

Ross Stores and the Ross Stores Foundation are longtime partners of Boys & Girls Clubs of America and supporters of the Power Hour program.

“I fell in love with SPARK. My kids would not be on the level they are now without the program. On the weekends they are never bored because they’re always reading!

Pamela, parent of a SPARK participant