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MCC youth summer camp gets funding to continue operations

Monroe Community College
Eight-year-olds Riley and Alphonso attend this year's Be A Healthy Hero summer camp at Monroe Community College. The camp is getting a grant that will extend its operations at least through 2021.

A health- and education-focused summer camp at Monroe Community College now has funding to continue its operations.

The Greater Rochester Health Foundation announced a $1.3 million grant to the Be A Healthy Hero Summer Camp on Thursday.

“We are truly grateful,” said Anne Kress, president of Monroe Community College. “We would not be able to run the program this way – to include all the fun and learning that we do – without this support.”

The camp, which enrolls students from first to sixth grade, has doubled in size from when it started in 2014, said Kress. This year, nearly 800 students are enrolled.

“Now, we can grow again next summer,” she said.

Kress said the camp builds on education research that finds academic reinforcement in a fun environment can prevent what teachers call the “summer slide” that often results in academic skills atrophying over the long break from school.

It also focuses on building healthy habits from a young age. Kress said attendees get physical activity through play, and they eat healthy meals at the camp and learn about the nutritional guidelines that make those meals good for them.

“There’s evidence that starting these children on that path early helps them do better in school and be healthier when they’re older,” said Kress. “And, to be honest, we hope they enroll at MCC when they’re that age.”

Still, the summer camp, which is free to Rochester City School District students, is vulnerable to upheaval because of its funding model.

“We do rely on philanthropy,” Kress said. “When federal and state funding streams don’t exist for us – when that well is dry – we need the kind of support that we’re getting from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.”

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