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Austin, Garfield Park, North Lawndale

Volunteers Needed For Free Virtual Tutoring To ‘Bridge That Gap’ For Black And Latino Students

A West Side nonprofit is launching a free online learning platform with educational materials and virtual tutoring to help under-resourced students thrive.

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WEST SIDE — A sister-brother duo from the West Side are looking for volunteers to tutor students and create supplemental academic resources while the majority of Chicago Public Schools students are learning remotely during the pandemic.

Mercedes Pickett and Charles Pickett, founder and vice president of Earth’s Remedies, are launching a free virtual learning platform for students. It will include study materials, tutoring and a curriculum being built by their nonprofit.

The learning platform will be “a hub of these developmental resources” for families who can’t afford the outside help, Mercedes Pickett said.

Those interested in volunteering for Earth’s Remedies’ virtual learning platform can fill out this form to apply to tutor or to build educational materials for the students. The neighborhood group is also raising money for the project with a GoFundMe.

All students have the potential to be enthusiastic learners with high academic achievements, Charles Pickett said. But many students are falling behind this school year.

“The difference is just the lack of opportunity,” he said.

The tough transition to virtual classes has made it hard for many students on the West Side to get the help they need, Charles Pickett said. Even without the added challenge of the pandemic, families in neighborhoods with few youth programs lack access to academic resources over the summer when schools are closed, he said.

“We’re trying to alleviate this pain, especially for Black and Brown kids,” Charles Pickett said. “There’s a gap in learning and opportunity. We can help bridge that gap and connect the opportunity.”

The learning platform will consist of free virtual tutoring sessions that will be led by volunteers over Zoom. Earth’s Remedies previously organized in-person tutoring sessions but paused the program due to the pandemic and shifted focus to supporting businesses while they built the education platform.

The project will also be an online “one-stop shop” where students can download supplemental materials, study guides and other resources to help them keep up and excel in class. The K-12 online curriculum is being developed by Earth’s Remedies with the help of teachers and volunteers.

Parents can also use the learning platform to get help supporting their kids.

“Parents need help. Teachers need additional resources,” Mercedes Pickett said. “Individuals can bring resources or their time to help alleviate the pressures of the teachers and the parents.”

Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.

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