Lab News

  • KBTC Partnership Creates Free Summer Camp for Low-Income Youth

    February 13, 2015

    A Tacoma community comes together to make summer learning fun
    Watch a video produced by KBTC about the 2014 Summer Camp.


    Parents and caregivers in the Salishan neighborhood of Tacoma, WA, struggled to find enriching, summer learning activities for kids, until a partnership between KBTC and Tacoma Public Schools provided an opportunity to create an interactive learning camp for kids in the neighborhood.


    Families in Salishan, like many working-class neighborhoods, faced many barriers when trying to access camps and other summer-learning opportunities, such as affordability, lack of transportation, family responsibilities, and even how to find programs. The closure of the local library branch further limited what was available to the community.

    As part of KBTC’s Ready to Learn outreach efforts to promote early learning opportunities through PBS Kids programs, and work within the community, the station partnered with Tacoma Public Schools to create a free summer camp for Tacoma’s most economically disadvantaged youth. A Comcast grant awarded in 2014 supported the partnership. 

    The summer camp was held over a three-week period in July of 2014 at Lister Elementary School in the Salishan Housing Project. Each day, more than 25, K-3rd graders engaged in hands-on, PBS KIDS learning activities, games, and other online resources that spanned reading, science, writing, and social studies.

    A computer lab, and iPads that were part of a mobile learning lab funded by the Comcast grant, introduced kids to new technology and PBS KIDS apps, while triggering discussions on what it means to create content.

    One of four camp teachers, Katia Olmeda-Rosa, who is also a teacher at Lister Elementary, explained that positive experiences at summer camps like the KBTC program creates can change the way kids think about school.

    “I was happy when I waked up this morning because I wanted to know what we are doing in Fetch today.  It was fun yesterday, and I know it will be even funner today.” – Jasmine, Grade 2

    Kids like Jasmine received breakfast and lunch plus a full day of activities that were designed to be fun, encouraging, engaging and interactive, as well as educational.

    Camp classes were designed to prevent “summer slide.” Studies show that more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.

    As summer camp came to a close, parents were encouraged to attend a final party, where they participated in a workshop to discuss how free PBS resources can extend summer learning and build learning and literacy skills.

    The 2014 Summer Camp supports the Foundation for Tacoma Students’ Graduate Tacoma! initiative, which has been working to increase the Tacoma Public School District’s graduation rate since 2010.