Learn United is a new, free tutoring service being offered in the Gate City starting in October.
Aiming to provide academic support to Nashua youth during the pandemic, several agencies are working together to create a collaborative of tutors who will assist children in need.
Learn United is a new partnership led by the United Way of Greater Nashua to provide free tutoring services to students in first through 11th grade in the Nashua School District.
“Teachers are going to be stretched thin and are going to need all of the help they can get. Think of this as a big homework club that is designed for maybe 4,000 or 5,000 students,” said Michael Apfelberg, president of the United Way of Greater Nashua.
He is hoping to form a pool of 300 to 500 volunteer tutors to assist with Learn United. The tutors will work remotely or in-person with city youth at various sites throughout Nashua, including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, the Nashua Police Athletic League, Girls Inc., the Adult Learning Center, the YMCA of Greater Nashua and more.
They will provide guidance and assistance on various subjects for different age groups, including math, reading, writing and other academic subjects, according to Apfelberg.
“We know that students will typically have a summer slide,” said Gail Casey, project manager with the 21st Century after-school program for the Nashua School District.
The summer months can often affect two or three months of a child’s education, she said, explaining the remote learning concept is vastly different than how most students learn.
“The teachers themselves are open to support because this is new for them as well, and they want to make sure their students are successful,” said Casey.
With working parents at home or multiple siblings at home, remote instruction can be challenging, she said, explaining Learn United strives to give students a tutor who can help them with their multiplication, reading, sight words, writing skills and more.
Apfelberg predicts that about half of the school district’s 11,000 students may need tutoring service in some capacity or another throughout the new school year. He is hopeful that many of the student referrals will come directly from their teachers, guidance counselors and administrators.
Volunteer tutors will be fully vetted with background checks before joining the program, he said, adding he hopes that some retired teachers or older high school students will consider offering tutoring help.
“We are trying to build this program to be extraordinarily flexible,” he said. “Each volunteer will have a specialized skill set.”
Aside from the United Way of Greater Nashua, the effort is also being coordinated by the Youth Council, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the 21st Century After School Program.
“Our city does a nice job of coming together and thinking outside of the box for solutions to address problems,” said Casey. “We know that the resources are out there to support these students.”
She stressed the importance of every child having at least one person to connect with academically, which will not only help the individual student, but also help that student’s teachers and parents.
The program, which will launch in October, has already acquired 100 mobile hotspots to be distributed to students who meet select criteria. In addition, a school supply and tech pantry has been created to collect traditional school supplies for Learn United, including backpacks, notebooks, markers, pencils and donated or refurbished laptops and tablets for low income students.
Anyone interested in volunteering as a tutor, providing technology support or donating to the school supply pantry may email email@example.com
This article was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader by Kimberly Houghton