Work, Learn, & Earn Summer Learning Program at Smilow Rainier Vista
The Work, Learn, & Earn Summer Learning Program at the Smilow Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club (SRV) focuses on supporting youth of color to build financial and leadership skills.
Through a partnership with Norman Alston and the eMode Learning Foundation, and with funding from the City of Seattle’s Families and Education Levy, campers explore related real-world uses for math and science topics.
Three fantastic topics covered in the program are Financial Literacy, Science and Tech, and Entrepreneurship.
Navigating the financial system can be challenging, and it is important for kids to begin to understand before reaching adulthood — especially because it’s not a topic that gets a lot of attention in school. Through the summer learning program at SRV, middle school campers learned the basics of banking and investments, so they can build smart financial futures.
Campers learned about the structure of a check and how banks work. They even got the opportunity to set up their own personal checking accounts with Wells Fargo!
The campers learned firsthand about interest through a summer-long challenge. At the beginning of the program, the instructor gave each kid $5. If they brought that $5 back the next week, they earned interest. At the end of the summer, the kid with the most interest got an additional $150! (Talk about a good investment incentive!)
Science and Tech
As the tech industry grows, it’s essential that kids are exposed to science and tech. Unfortunately, many schools are limited by funding, class sizes, and other factors. Not all kids are on equal footing for a possible career in science or technology. The SRV Summer Learning Program is designed to fill that gap and help kids prepare for a career in technology.
One project involved a twist on a classic science experiment: make slime — but without being given the ingredient amounts. Kids worked together and across groups, experimenting and sharing results until each group landed on a consistency they liked. Given the freedom to discover for themselves and the encouragement to collaborate, the campers were excited and proud to show off their results.
In another creative project, campers produced their own films! They planned scripts, found talent, shot footage, and edited videos together to present at the end of the program. At the viewing event, the kids’ energy and pride filled the room, as campers cheered support for each other’s films.
Less than 2% of CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies are people of color, and it’s trending downward. In an effort to level the playing field, the SRV Summer Learning Program focused a lot on entrepreneurship. The lessons inspire confidence, build leadership skills, and teach business aptitude.
In one exercise, each camper created a plan for a new business that was personal and solved a problem. The kids invented an company name, a logo, and identified the industry.
Toward the end of the program, the kids stood up one by one and delivered presentations to the group. They asked follow-up questions and shared advice on how to make each idea stronger. It’s clear that this generation of change-makers is filled with kids who are confident, intelligent, and focused on creating a better world for all of us.
The campers came up with businesses like: “Best Friends for Life”, a best friend matchmaking service, “Kids without Parents”, an organization that would take care of kids whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so, and “Lorenzo’s Landscaping”, a lawn service already in operation by one young entrepreneur! In addition, there was an organization to teach sign language and several tech company ideas.
It’s impossible not to be impressed with the ingenuity of these Club kids. They gained valuable life skills through this program, as well as an undeniable confidence in their academic abilities.