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Not-For-Profit Keeps Students on Track for Summer

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The school year is winding down and there's a new program that's trying to keep students in the books during the upcoming summer months so they don't fall behind. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.

You may be hard pressed to find kids excited about summer school but a group of city students are praising a program they say gave them an edge as they head to college in the fall. It's called Practice Makes Perfect.

"We take kids who are academically struggling or have nothing else to do over the summer and pair them up with higher achieving role models," said Practice Makes Perfect Founder Karim Abouelnaga.

Abouelnaga, 22, founded the program three years ago while he was still a college student at Cornell University. Working out of a shared Midtown office space, with a skeleton staff, he was haunted by how many of his fellow high school students from Long Island City fell through the cracks during the summer because they were not engaged and forgot what they learned during the school year. Now he's determined to do something about it with his innovative peer mentoring program.

"Our students have eliminated the summer learning loss year over year - made six percent gains on average in reading, seven percent gains in math," Abouelnaga said.

"I was able to gain a feeling of responsibility - I was able to dream bigger than I ever would have," said Practice Makes Perfect Mentor Irving Torres.

Organizers of Practice Makes Perfect say the loss of academic skills over the course of summer costs the economy between $310 billion and $525 billion every year when educators re-teach material. The program gives stipends to low-income high school students who mentor elementary and middle school students throughout July and August, and the mentors get special help to get into the college of their choice.

"They prepped us a lot. They helped us with resumes, interviews, SAT prep," said Practice Makes Perfect Mentor Elizabeth Yee.

"A lot of our students fall to drugs, gangs, violence, teen pregnancy. And it's an issue that plagues us and you see those numbers increase over the summer," said Practice Makes Perfect CFO Brandon Espinosa.

"You see these kids standing up there - and they are dreaming big and it's not just one success story it's 22," said Lauren Bell, a New York City school teacher.

The three-year-old not-for-profit has room for 1,000 students but they've only signed up about 200. Kids cannot sign up on their own, the school has to do it for them.

The deadline is May 16th.

For More information, log on to practicemakesperfect.org.

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