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Program helps Kent County students during final weeks of school

Home Stretch Program promises to help students finish the academic year strong.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged schools in many ways, including student learning.  With roughly five weeks left in the academic year, a Grand Rapids organization wants to make sure kids can finish strong.

The organization is the Black Impact Collaborative, and its members are responsible for making the aptly titled Home Stretch Program available for Kent County students.

"This program is vitally important, as parents have been tasked with a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic," says AJ Hills, a member of the Black Impact Collaborative. "They're monitoring students activities, whether it's grades, or just engagement with schools. It has been a challenge. So, this five-week program is designed to walk alongside parents, to be additional eyes and ears, to help coordinate missing assignments, to help coordinate work that has already being done on time. 

"But, we really want to make sure that parents have additional support and students have additional support to finish the school year strong, from an academic perspective."

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The Home Stretch Program is for students in Kent County who are in grades Kindergarten - 8th. There is no cost to the participants, but registration is required. The program runs May 4, 2021 - June 4, 2021. The adult monitors go through background screening before being matched with families. They are all trusted adults in the community. Many are former educators.

Grand Rapids 3rd Ward City Commissioner Senita Lenear is also a member of Black Impact Collaborative. She says those involved in BIC, and this program, subscribes to the ancient proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child."

 "We have been hearing for over a year, and personally, we've all been talking about the way COVID has impacted education. And so we're hearing all the time that parents are frustrated, teachers are challenged and students are feeling their self confidence decreasing, because of all of the struggles. So, that's exactly why we've come together to say, let's do this," she says. 

"The Black Impact Collaborative is a group of organizations that came together last year to identify and illuminate black needs for people in Greater Grand Rapids. Education is just one of our priorities."

Space in the program is limited. Those wanting to apply can register here.

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