The mission of the Rising Star Baptist Church Summer Youth Program is to provide a safe and fun-filled environment that promotes education, health, fellowship, and teamwork among the community and the Rising Star family.

And while all of that is true, one purpose stands above Rev. Ralph W. Emerson, Jr.

“The goal of the program is to build the learning capacity of all our scholars,” said Rev. Emerson, Executive Director of the RSBC Summer Youth Program. “And to strengthen their reading and comprehension skills.”

The RSBC Summer Youth Program is one of 12 programs in Read Fort Worth’s Summer Scholars Collaborative, which is reaching more than 3,000 students at more than 60 sites across the city. Each program is embedded with a purposeful literacy component designed to help prevent “summer slide,” the loss of literacy levels over the summer.

Rising Star Baptist Church, in the historic Stop Six area in southeast Fort Worth, serves mostly Fort Worth ISD students. The Church is a true community resource with a family life center, weight room, game room, gym, jogging track, aerobics area, performance stage, family lounge and chapel. Expansion plans are in place for a worship center, education area, bookstore and office complex.

The RSBC program isn’t just a week of camp for kids to play and for parents needing a break during the day. It’s a real commitment on both sides. The days are long and full. The work being done is real. For 10 weeks beginning in early June and running through Aug. 9, the students are exposed to that “purposeful literacy component.”

The program aspires to provide true enrichment, helping children fall in love with reading, enhancing their self-esteem and building positive attitudes towards learning. The curriculum supports children and families around five essential components:

  • High quality academic enrichment
  • Parent and family involvement
  • Civic engagement and social action
  • Intergenerational leadership development
  • Nutrition, health and mental health

As with the rest of the Collaborative programs, the RSBC program believes reading is crucial to unlocking the door of a child’s dreams and unlimited potential. The books selected within the Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC) represent some of the country’s best writers and illustrators. A number of guest readers have visited the program throughout the summer, including Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner.

The day runs from breakfast starting at 7 a.m. through dismissal at 5:15 p.m. Most of the morning is spend doing reading exercises, including a D.E.A.R. time (Drop Everything And Read) right before lunch. The afternoons are built around fun, educational activities that augment the IRC, such as arts and crafts, dance, music, field trips and sports. It all feeds into RSBC Summer Youth Program’s pursuit of cultural enrichment, community involvement, conflict resolution and social action.

“The mission and vision of the program is aligned with the mission and vision of the Church,” said Rev. Emerson, who has been the Senior Pastor at Rising Star since 1990. “We seek reclaim, reshape souls.”

On an average day, 80-90 students attend from all around the city. The kids are split up by grade level with assigned teachers – Level 0 (ages 4-5), Level 1 (grades kindergarten-2), Level 2 (grades 3-5) and Level 3 (grades 6-8).

The program staff is extensive. Of the approximately 25 members, 10 are Servant Leader Interns (SLI) who are current college students. Another 11 are high school students who serves as Classroom/SLI assistants. The hands-on time with the students is paying off.

“We have seen a learning developmental curve upward with our students,” Rev. Emerson said. “Some go on to be leaders in the program.”

For more information on the Rising Star Baptist Church Summer Youth Program, visit www.risingstarbc.org/rsbc-summer-youth-program


Article by Art Garcia

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