Program Update: Academic Success

New online memorials
February 7, 2021
Update: SMASH 11 event
February 10, 2021

Program Update: Academic Success

For much of the last year, I’ve been writing in the monthly e-newsletter about concerns I have about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic is having on young people in our community. Of all the consequences, I’ve been the most vocal about “learning loss” and how that impacts kids in a variety of ways (e.g. academic performance, grade promotion, on-time graduation, college admission, long-term wage earnings, etc).

This month I thought it was important to share with you some of the data that recently came across my desk pertaining to the Club’s Academic Success programs and the impact they are having on Club members during these unprecedented times.

What the numbers tell us

  • We currently employ 8 tutors, each with a strong background in education.
  • During the 19-20 school year, an average of 125 members received tutoring each month.
  • 40 members are using our new ReadingPlus online program to improve reading fluency.
  • We have 75 Chromebooks available for members to access online resources.
  • Regular attendance at the club is correlated with higher standardized test scores, as compared to neighborhood peers who aren’t regular attendees.

What academic success programming look like at the Club?

  • Approximately 75 members currently rely on the clubs as their primary location for access to wifi and academic support for remote learning.
  • Remote learners and those attending in-person school receive individualized afterschool tutoring- averaging 2.5 hours/month spent with a tutor.
  • During the stay-at-home order, we received a grant to purchase 800 books to distribute to members.
  • For 9 weeks, we distributed our own academic packets to members along with meal delivery, to ensure that those without internet access still had educational materials.

Meet one of our volunteer tutors

Kim McLaughlin is one of the tutors at the Fairgrounds Club. As a 21-year educator who worked in K-5 classrooms for most of her career, she discovered how much she missed the classroom after recently accepting a principal position. Tutoring at the club has given her “the opportunity to fill that void and give back to the community”.

Kim’s mission is to “help students of all ages develop a love for learning by discovering that although it may be hard work, learning is fun!

We are lucking to have Kim on our team, and it is paying dividends for those Club members who work with her.

Thanks, Kim! We appreciate you more than words can express.

Success story

You know me. While I like to see what the data says about how our programming impacts the community. I always look for the personal stories to back up the data. I really think data can’t tell the whole story unless there is a face to it. So, I thought I’d pass along a quick story that someone shared with me the other day.

Our tutors go above and beyond to ensure that members get the help they need. A tutor at the Blackhawk Club reports that she has been working intensively this fall with a student who had fallen behind on his remote learning assignments.

The 3rd grader began the year with WiFi access and parental help with schoolwork at home, but a sudden disruption in his home life left him without either of these necessities. Three weeks’ worth of assignments went uncompleted.

Club staff worked with the family and the child’s school to develop a plan. Daily attendance at Blackhawk’s remote learning program and many hours one-on-one with his tutor have helped this member catch up on what seemed like an insurmountable backlog of assignments.

As his tutor put it, “I really do not know where he would be without the generosity of our community to make this service available. I am so happy that we can be here to act as a link to close this gap.”

Call to action

It has been almost a year since the coronavirus pandemic started, and our schools and community endured its first shelter-in-place order. Can you believe it?

School test data and national experts are painting a grim picture for this generation of young people. Many are falling behind, and this is especially true for students of color who live in low income communities.

This challenge will not solve itself. We need people who are willing to help bridge this gap with us. And this can look like a lot of different things such as volunteering, donating money, advocating/speaking up. Please contact me if you are interested in getting more involved.

With Gratitude,