MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Several organizations have stepped up to help provide learning locations in the Mid-South, but as the pandemic continues, they could use assistance to keep supporting students.
Camille Connor spoke with one organization that’s looking to raise funds to continue services in the spring.
When the Memphis community learned that parents and students would need assistance navigating a new way of doing school online, dozens of organizations offered to become virtual learning locations.
“It was so exciting seeing the kindergarteners come in because they had never been to school before,” said Alexis Gwin-Miller.
Alexis Gwin-Miller is the executive director of Power Center Community Development Cooperation which partnered with New Direction Christian Church to provide a virtual learning hub in the Hickory Hill area.
“New direction has the space and the buildings in order to socially distance students in pods,” she said.
The learning hub assists about 100 students with online classes each day, there’s also tutoring, an onsite nurse, and counseling.
“Right there in our midst to deal with children who may have had any type of ins and outs with the COVID-19 virus with their own family, or had lost family members,” she told WMC.
For parents the hub has been a huge help.
“We did an in-house survey. We had about 70% of families that said that they were concerned about job loss as a result of not having childcare,” Gwin-Miller said.
A $300,000 dollar grant from the Tennessee Department of Human services helped pay staff at the hub, provide supplies, PPE, meals and continue operations for the first semester.
Now, the program needs more funds to continue into the spring.
They’ve set up a GoFundMe to raise $25,000 to continue until March. But they know they may have to ask for more as students may have to continue learning virtually even longer.
Gwin-Miller said she’s seen how valuable the resource has become, especially when it comes to supporting students’ social and emotional health.
“When you’re asking him to graph a parabola and at the same time he’s wondering about if a grandfather or a mother may pass away because of COVID? That’s a lot,” she said.